Yossi Olmert, the younger brother of former prime minister Ehud Olmert, was declared a hostile witness Monday by the Tel Aviv District Court in the ongoing Holyland trial against his brother.
The court made the move after it became clear that Yossi Olmert’s testimony contradicted earlier statements he had made to authorities in the US about payments received from the late state witness Shmuel Dachner.
Dachner died in March 2013, bringing the trial to a pause while the prosecution regrouped.
Yossi Olmert testified to the court Monday via conference call, while his brother and his lawyers were present in the room. In his 2010 statements to US authorities, he said that he had received payments from Dachner on several occasions, in late 2002 and early 2003.
During Monday’s proceedings, Yossi Olmert said he had no recollection of receiving payments.
“I asked for evidence [of a check] to help me refresh my memory. I’m saying unequivocally, I can’t say with certainty there were such checks,” he said.
“My brother Ehud Olmert was not involved in any way [in dealings] between me and Dachner. I didn’t mention him and neither did he,” he added.
The prosecution can now submit the transcript of Yossi Olmert’s 2010 testimony to the court and ask that it take precedence over Monday’s testimony.
The Holyland affair, billed as one of the largest corruption scandals in Israel’s history, revolves around a real estate development project in which dozens of city officials, including Ehud Olmert — who was mayor of Jerusalem at the time — are accused of accepting bribes.
The Holyland project spawned an extensive Jerusalem development whose initiators allegedly were able to far exceed their original mandate by paying off officials.