Holyland state witness admits to lying to police

New stage of trial begins as defense cross-examines witness known as S.D., who admits "I lied" about various details.

FORMER PRIME MINISTER Ehud Olmert in court 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
FORMER PRIME MINISTER Ehud Olmert in court 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The state witness in the Holyland trial admitted to initially lying to police and to inventing people involved in the scheme who did not even exist, he testified in the Tel Aviv District Court on Monday.
Monday marked a new stage of the trial as the defense began cross-examining S.D., as he is known under a gag order.
Hillel Cherny’s attorney, Giora Aderet, was the first to cross-examine S.D.
Cherny, according to S.D., was the lead investor and benefactor in the Holyland scheme and directed who S.D. would bribe and how high the bribes would be.
The Holyland trial involves allegations of bribery against 16 defendants, including former prime minister Ehud Olmert, for moving forward a major real estate project in Jerusalem where the Holyland hotel used to stand, even as the project violated numerous zoning and building laws.
Under cross-examination, S.D. said that “I lied” about a number of details in an ultimately unused draft version of the indictment, a copy of which was provided to Cherny, though it was never filed.
Aderet accused S.D. of lying about criminal actions involving Cherny in order to extort the businessman or at least scare him into paying him money or cooperating with the state.
S.D. also admitted to having invented officials on the police force who appear as being criminally involved in the bribery and fraud scheme in the draft of the indictment.
There were some astounding moments in which Aderet went down a list of the alleged policemen and S.D. merely confirmed “he doesn’t exist” to each question.
But S.D. disputed Aderet’s version of why he had lied.
According to S.D., he merely exaggerated a mostly true story and just wanted Cherny to join him as a state witness against the other Holyland defendants.
S.D. justified his lying, stating that his overall story about Olmert receiving over NIS 1.5 million in bribes and regarding the other defendants receiving bribes was all true.
He saw no problem with lying in an initial draft of an indictment in order to try to get Cherny to “do the right thing” and turn state’s witness.
Ultimately, S.D. admitted that the value of the original draft of the indictment was “not worth the paper” on which it was printed.
There were other fireworks in the legal proceedings, as S.D. explained why he decided to approach Olmert as a candidate for bribery and for helping move the Holyland project forward.
S.D. slung accusations at Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and leading lawyers of the law firm Yigal Arnon, who had represented Olmert in prior cases.
He said that Liberman, while still director of the Prime Minister’s Office during Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s first term in the mid/late 1990s told him that Olmert was “corrupt.”
Initially S.D. actually tried to avoid mentioning Liberman under questioning about who told him that he could get Olmert’s cooperation with bribes. However, under the court’s order, he relented and mentioned Liberman as one of the people who had called Olmert corrupt.
S.D. added that Yigal Arnon attorneys who had represented Olmert told him that Olmert “loves money.”
S.D. saw these pieces of advice as an opening to turn to Olmert as a candidate for bribery and helping with smoothing over legal violations regarding the Holyland project.