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State's witness in court Photo: Moti Kimhi
State's witness in court Photo: Moti Kimhi
 
 

State's witness in Holyland case dies

Witness, 75, passes away less than day after particularly heated court hearing during trial involving former PM Olmert

Naama Cohen-Friedman
Published: 03.01.13, 09:47 / Israel News

The State's star witness in the Holyland case has passed away less than a day after a particularly heated court hearing. The witness, aged 75, died hours after testifying in a trial in which one of the defendants is former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

 

Olmert is being charged with taking bribes during his stint as Jerusalem mayor in order to promote a construction project in the city.

 

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Other defendants in the case include Olmert's former bureau chief Shula Zaken, his predecessor as Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski and entrepreneur Hillel Cherney. The name of the witness, who had been suffering from poor health, is still under a gag order.


מעיד בבית המשפט המחוזי תל אביב (צילום: מוטי קמחי)

State's witness testifies in court (Photo: Moti Kimhi)

 

The State Prosecutor's Office said that the trial will go on even without a cross-examination of the witness.

 

The Holyland trial opened in July 2012 at the Tel Aviv District Court. It involves several real estate projects and bribes that were given to public officials in exchange for the projects' advancement.

 

Earlier this month and in a dramatic turn of events, the Defense made a play to debunk the State's accusations against Olmert by presenting evidence suggesting that the State's star witness failed to implicate Olmert in any wrongdoing.

 

Much of the State's case relies on a list recalled by the witness, which he allegedly wrote as events in the Holyland project were unfolding, and which names the people who accepted bribes.


(צילום: מוטי קמחי)

Photo: Moti Kimhi

 

The defense entered the list into evidence, clearly showing that the former prime minister was not on it.

 

During Thursday's hearing, Olmert's attorney Roee Blecher challenged the witness' account of things which led the latter to burst out calling Blecher a liar. "He's talking to me like I'm trash," he said.

 

The evidence presented on Thursday could undermine the witness' credibility.

At one point during the trial he had confessed to forging documents involving Olmert.

 

It was recently reported that the witness was set to receive at least NIS 2 million in exchange for his testimony in the case. Yedioth Ahronoth said he receives a monthly allowance for a period of six years and had his tax debts wiped off.

 

 

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