Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his ex-bureau chief Shula Zaken sat on the same bench at the Jerusalem District Court on Monday and listened to the lawyers' statements and the witnesses' testimonies in their Rishon Tours corruption affair.
Avi Pazner, world chairman of Keren Hayesod - United Israel Appeal said on the stand, "It is sad that someone tried to exploit Keren Hayesod."
The organization heads that testified in the court funded the overseas trips taken by Olmert, over which he is currently standing trial. Pazner said in his testimony that Olmert was an excellent speaker.
"He was there for us any time we asked, both in Israel and abroad. He was ready to take off, and it was important to us to recruit him for this important conference. He is a prestigious speaker, and one who can explain the situation. He was an ideal candidate."
Attorney Uri Korev asked, "In your investigation, it was revealed that Olmert did not travel to you with government delegations, but with the funding of additional bodies, and surplus was created, what do you have to say about that?"
Pazner answered, "When the police detectives told me this I was shocked. I couldn't believe it. It was hard for me to believe that such a thing happened and I asked them several times – are you sure? They said yes. I was very said and I had a difficult time believing that such a crisis happened to us, as the police said. I was sad that someone tried to exploit Keren Hayesod."
Then next witness was Yehuda Marmorstein, director-general of the Aleh Foundation, which cares for the disabled in Israel. After the session, Marmorstein said, "The court will decide if there was double billing or not. We did everything we were supposed to do. The organization did the right thing. I am sorry for Olmert, we lost a friend who was there any time we asked."
An aide close to Olmert said in response, "All the witnesses' testimonies said that what caused them damage was the publicity. And the publicity was created by the police and the prosecution, who issued a detailed statement at the start of the investigation."