Main witness in Olmert Holyland trial hospitalized

Fraud case put on hold after main witness "S.D.," hospitalized again; unclear when proceedings are scheduled to restart.

HOLYLAND 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The main witness in the Holyland trial was hospitalized on Thursday morning, leading to the cancelation of proceedings.
“S.D.,” as the state’s main witness is known under a gag order, was released from the hospital late Tuesday afternoon, and was expected to return to testifying in court on Sunday.
It is still unclear what is causing S.D.’s medical problems, for which he has been hospitalized twice recently.
It is also unclear if S.D.’s health situation is resolved, or only temporarily under control.
Before his medical difficulties, the trial had focused almost entirely on his testimony, four days a week from 9 a.m. until the early afternoon.
S.D. was previously hospitalized for over a week in mid-October, and released following the completion of various tests.
Curiously, both of S.D.’s hospitalizations were after he had gone through rough days of cross-examination by defense attorney Giora Aderet.
The trial, which deals with one of the largest bribery and fraud schemes in the country’s history, involves charges against former prime minister Ehud Olmert and fifteen other defendants.
It involves public officials moving a large deluxe residential housing project in Jerusalem forward through the approval process while overlooking various building and zoning regulations.
During the time in which the Holyland affair allegedly took place, Olmert was first the mayor of Jerusalem and then the minister of industry, trade and labor.
At the time when it was still unclear if and when S.D. would return from his first hospitalization, Tel Aviv District Court Judge David Rozen battled with the defense attorneys over moving along with the trial.
Rozen had wanted to push forward with hearing other witnesses for the prosecution from morning until 8:00 p.m. at night.
The defense attorneys said their clients’ rights to a fair trial would be endangered if the normal course of testifying wasn’t followed and the trial halted until S.D. returned.
Usually, ancillary witnesses would not be called until all of the 16 defendants’ defense attorneys had an opportunity to cross-examine S.D.
When Rozen wouldn’t budge, but the defense attorneys refused to conduct cross-examination of the state’s first witness other than S.D., the court postponed the case for the defense attorneys to appeal to the Supreme Court.
While urging Judge Rozen to seriously consider the defense attorneys’ arguments, particularly since the state was also not enthusiastic about moving forward without S.D., the Supreme Court upheld Rozen’s discretion on the issue.
Both in that case and with regard to the recent hospitalization, S.D. returned before the case became further derailed, but the Supreme Court’s siding with Rozen means that if S.D. has any more hospitalizations, the court’s authority to push forward is already established.
According to the News1 website, S.D. said that Olmert received a total of NIS 1.5 million in bribes, but contradicted himself about the individual amounts.
When challenged by a defense attorney over the fact that the witness did not seem to remember anything other than the total amount that Olmert received, the witness confirmed the accusation by responding “Yes,” according to the report.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.