Olmert's lawyers give body blow in Holyland case

State's main witness admits to falsifying documents in case; follows break celebrated by former PM's lawyers on Sunday.

Olmert arriving at trial 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Olmert arriving at trial 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s legal team pounded the state’s main witness in the Holyland case on Tuesday, getting him to admit that he gave documents to the state – presented in court as evidence – that he himself falsified.
At the start of the case, the main witness, referred to only as S.D. under a gag order, had admitted to falsifying documents and stories against the defendants, but had said the forgeries were only in his earlier civil action, and that everything he told the court in the criminal proceeding was true.
Over the course of other defendants’ cross-examination of S.D., it was proved that he had also falsified documents used in the current criminal proceedings against them.
But on Tuesday, in a documentary analysis which S.D. at first resisted, but eventually gave in to, Olmert’s legal team proved for the first time that a document which S.D. and the state had submitted to specifically prove Olmert’s involvement in corruption surrounding the Holyland project was a forgery.
S.D. said the document showed a 1994 request from Olmert to involve the Barzilai accounting firm in the Holyland project.
More specifically, S.D. testified that Olmert’s former bureau chief Shula Zaken, also a defendant in the case, called to ask him on Olmert’s behalf to switch accounting firms to the Barzilai firm, Olmert’s accountants, to better coordinate moving the Holyland project forward between the parties.
S.D.’s handwriting appeared on the document, which bore the letterhead of one of his companies, “Amior.”
Olmert’s legal team proved that S.D. forged the document, because the telephone number appearing on the document could not have existed until 1996 at the earliest.
To prove this, Olmert’s lawyers showed that the document listed a seven-digit telephone number, whereas other official records showed that Amior had a six digit telephone number until 1996, and only switched to seven digits then.
S.D. appeared to alternately admit that it was a forgery, suggest that the photocopy might have been re-copied on another page at a later date, and say he had forgotten the circumstances.
Realizing the potential damage to his credibility resulting from the line of questioning, S.D. told the court, “I forged documents, but not systematically.”
Not willing to let S.D. wiggle out of this legal fire zone, Olmert lawyer Roi Belcher jumped in and asked if he had forged documents “with the purpose of misleading the authorities,” playing on the idea that S.D. could also be misleading the court.
S.D. admitted that he had forged documents with that purpose in mind.
Later in the hearing, Judge David Rozen temporarily dropped the traditional judge’s mask regarding his thoughts on the case so far, indirectly implying that Olmert’s lawyers had succeeded in sowing doubts in his mind about the evidence against Olmert.
Rozen also made a remark to Belcher suggesting that since the case against Olmert is weak, they could wrap it up and the court could move on to other defendants who faced more serious evidence.
Emotions ran high throughout the hearing, with S.D. and Belcher calling each other a “liar” numerous times and the court having to intervene, asking the parties to refrain from “personal attacks.”
On Sunday, Olmert had received another big break in the case, when his lawyers revealed a list in S.D.’s diary of names of people who received bribes – that did not include Olmert’s.
The forged document from Tuesday’s hearing could cause the j0udge to conclude that he must now doubt the veracity of all documents presented by S.D. against Olmert.
Belcher also exposed S.D. as either forgetting, or lying about not remembering that Olmert had supported the Holyland project, including at public press conferences with former tourism minister Uzi Baram, even before the earliest date when S.D. said he bribed Olmert for his support.
The former prime minister was again in attendance, after months of being absent, likely to watch some of the most significant days of cross-examination of S.D. that will occur in the case.