A state witness in the Holyland real estate corruption trial said on Monday that he gave money to former prime minister Ehud Olmert to cover campaign debts during Olmert’s bid to become mayor of Jerusalem.
“I got to know him because it was clear that the Holyland project required the support of the mayor of Jerusalem, and the whole project was dependent on that,” the witness said on Monday.
The unidentified witness, known only as S.D., told the Tel Aviv District Court that he gave Olmert NIS 1.5 million that he received from Hillel Charney, a financier and landowner also implicated in the affair.
S.D. said that the money was written off as a personal loan to himself from the coffers of the Holyland Tourism company that is at the heart of the scandal.
The state witness also described how he brought Olmert cigars and other gifts.
The witness also said he had transferred half a million shekels to Olmert’s brother.
The Holyland affair is seen as one of the largest corruption scandals in Israel’s history and involves Olmert and another former mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lupolianski, as well as many others.
The defendants’ lawyers have attacked the credibility of S.D., calling him a liar who had struck a deal with the state in order to ensure his financial future. Though the specifics of the state’s deal with the witness have yet to be formally released, it is known that the agreement included the cancellation of his debts and the provision of a state stipend for the rest of his life.
The elderly witness halted his testimony midway Sunday, citing health problems, before resuming Monday. Olmert on Sunday called S.D. a “liar” for alleging that he had taken bribes in the affair.
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