Shula Zaken in court
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Prosecution's Uri Korev
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Rishon Tours affair: Judges tired of identical testimonies

Jerusalem District Court criticizes State Prosecutor's Office for continuously using same witnesses saying the same thing in Olmert-Zaken trial

A tense atmosphere was noted in the Jerusalem District Court on Thursday during a hearing in the trial of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his ex-bureau chief Shula Zaken indicted in the Rishon Tours double-billing affair.


The judges became irritated at the prosecution's selection of witnesses all repeating previous statements.

"Every single time we get the same witnesses, who say exactly the same thing," court president Moussia Arad said.


During the hearing, the prosecution witnesses repeatedly stressed that had they known of Olmert's alleged double-billing of overseas travels they would not have facilitated it.


Attorney Uri Korev, for the prosecution, tried to calm matters by saying "these are important witnesses who are here to illustrate a certain pattern."

Olmert in court (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


Witness Yafit Nissan-Marom, a former employee of the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers, was asked whether the nature of Olmert's travels raised any suspicions and responded, "If I remember correctly, the demands did seem slightly exaggerated. We were asked to arrange first-class travel arrangement for several other people. It seemed uncommon and excessive to me."


She nevertheless claimed she was not the one responsible. "I told the American contact person that it seems excessive, but I could only voice my opinion. They approved the trip. Had we known of double funding it would not have happened, since the Association's policy is to save costs whenever possible."


Later in the hearing, the witness noted that Olmert demanded to arrange business class seats for his staff members, an unusual request.


"Mostly when a person is sitting in 'business,' his body guards aren't there with him. It is very expensive and raises costs. If I remember correctly, we received another request for other individuals to sit next to him which seemed excessive to me."


פרסום ראשון: 05.27.10, 13:14
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