The state witness for the prosecution at the heart of a real estate corruption trial involving former prime minister Ehud Olmert and others was laid to rest on Sunday at a ceremony in Herzliya.
The man, referred to in the press only as “Shin Daled” due to a court gag order, was 76 when he died on Friday morning.
Speaking at the funeral, his daughter bitterly told the crowd of over 100 mourners how the so-called Holyland affair and the controversies that surround it affected her father.
“They shortened your life,” she said referring to the stress of appearing in court and the attitude of many of her father’s former business acquaintances who, she claimed, abandoned the man after taking advantage of him. She added that had she known what the trial would entail she would never have agreed to let him testify when he told his family of his intention to do so.
“Shin Daled” was in poor health, enduring several hospitalizations before and during the years-long legal saga. Since July, the witness had testified in over 70 court hearings, most of them lasting several hours.
In August 2012 the prosecution revealed that the state was paying a monthly stipend of NIS 12,000 a month to “Shin Daled.” The fact that the state was making payments to the witness was widely criticized as potentially skewing the accuracy of his testimony.
Earlier in July 2012, Olmert lashed out at the witness publicly, calling him a “dubious liar.”
Much of the case against Olmert hinges on Shin Daled’s testimony and it was not immediately clear how the court would proceed with the trial. Prosecutors, however, said Friday that they would continue trying the case as planned, but that the star witness’s crucial testimony would now carry less weight.
The Holyland affair, billed as Israel’s largest corruption scandal, revolves around a real estate development project in which dozens of city officials, including 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.