Former prime minister Ehud Olmert enters court prior to conviction in Holyland trial, March 31, 2014.
(photo credit: DROR EYNAV/POOL)
Ehud Olmert on Monday morning decided to drop former Mossad head Meir Dagan and all character witnesses in a last minute development as sentencing arguments started for him and the other 9 prominent convicted Holyland defendants.
The former prime minister was expected to call Dagan to highlight his contributions to the state to convince the court not to sentence him to the three to six years in prison being predicted, but may have worried that highlighting his high office could also lead to a harsher sentence.
But the courtroom was most moved by a dentist who lost former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianki's grandson in dental surgery who said that "he forgave me" so "we should forgive him."
Dentist Shlomit Chovav-Bach was in tears through most of the testimony.
Unlike during the already half-dozen witnesses testifying to try to soften any harsh sentence for Lupolianski and other defendants, who Judge David Rozen appeared to be only half-paying attention to, Bach captured the rapt attention of Rozen and the whole courtroom.
Olmert, Lupolianski and a total of 10 prominent defendants were convicted at the end of March of giving and receiving bribes and other crimes in the Holyland trial.
The trial fleshed out the worst fraud and bribery scheme in the country's history relating to public servants smoothing over legal and zoning obstacles in connection with the Holyland project in south Jerusalem and some other projects.
Chovav-Bach described Lupolianski and his family as reacting the opposite from lashing out at her when she lost his grandson in dental surgery.
She said they were "close to the angels" and that even when she was being questioned by police, they passed on a message to her through the police that the Lupolianskis' wanted to know "how she was and they were not mad at me."
Chovav-Bach added that she visited the Lupolianskis during the seven days of mourning and that she had been unsure "how I would've, how I would take care of my kids, if I wanted to live," but that the Lupolianskis made her believe in forgiveness and "strengthened me."
She said Lupolianski "wanted to see me contribute to society and not to be punished."
Chovav-Bach also praised Yad Sarah as caring for her demented father, implying whether Lupolianski is guilty or innocent that he should not be punished for the conviction of getting money for the organization as part of the bribery scheme.