Holyland state witness: I bribed former TA mayor

State witness says he gave money to Ovadia Yosef and to Arye Deri for his legal battles.

Holyland 390 (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
Holyland 390
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
The state witness continued to sling accusations and mention more public figures, including former Tel Aviv mayor Shlomo Lahat and Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, during Tuesday’s sequel to the Holyland trial’s cross-examination.
The state witness, or “S.D.” as he is known under a gag order, said he had bribed Lahat to get him to help move forward certain projects relating to Dizengoff Center and other neighborhoods in Tel Aviv. Under cross-examination, S.D. said he financed 15 Avis cars for Lahat as well as various other items.
Next, S.D. mentioned that he had given NIS 600,000- 700,000 to Yosef through various Shas institutions.
Regarding these funds, S.D. did not mention any specific goal of bribery or accuse Yosef of any criminal conduct.
S.D. also said he had given $350,000 to Arye Deri for his legal battles, while he was still Shas’s leader. S.D. also testified that he complained to Deri for not thanking him for the funds, Deri responded that he had never received them, and S.D. eventually concluded that Deri’s intermediary stole the funds.
The Holyland trial involves former prime minister Ehud Olmert and 15 other defendants in a massive alleged bribery and fraud scheme to push through a large residential building project at the site where the Holyland hotel once stood, despite building and zoning violations.
During the first stage of the trial, S.D. lashed out at wide range of public officials and businessmen. For over a month, S.D. and the state had sole control of the microphone and the defense was forced to remain mostly silent.
All of that changed on Monday as Giora Aderet, attorney for businessman Hillel Cherny, began to cross-examine S.D. Cherny continued his cross-examination on Tuesday, claiming he had caught S.D. in over 50 contradictions.
At times, there was also significant tension and verbal dueling between S.D., Aderet and even presiding Judge David Rozen.
One line of questioning that Aderet aggressively pursued was the attempt to prove instances in which S.D. admitted to having decided on his own to bribe public officials. Undoubtedly, one line of defense Aderet will pursue for Cherny will be to argue that the businessman did not know S.D. was giving bribes and that S.D. made these decisions on his own as well.
While making the state’s case, S.D. had previously testified that Cherny was the main investor and director of the bribes.