Prosecutor seeks continuance in Holyland trial
Following the sudden death of ‘Shin Daled,’ the star witness in the case, government asks for time to regroup
Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.
The State Prosecutor’s Office will file a request Monday at the Tel Aviv District Court to bring the “Holyland” trial against former prime minister Ehud Olmert and others to a halt for at least a couple of weeks, following the death of the state’s main witness over the weekend.
According to the prosecutor’s office, the sudden death of the witness in the case, known to the Israeli public only as “Shin Daled” due to a court-ordered gag order, caught it by surprise.
“Shin Daled,” who died on Friday, was expected to testify for at least another two months and his passing away has forced the prosecutor’s office to regroup for the case.
“Shin Daled” was 76 years old and in poor health, following several hospitalizations before and during the years-long legal saga. Since July, the witness had testified in over 70 hearings, most of the sessions lasting several hours.
It was not immediately clear how the death of the witness would affect Olmert, who is one of several defendants in the case. Some legal analysts said Friday they believe the witness’s demise marked “a death blow” for the state prosecution.
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.
The prosecution issued a statement saying they had already made it clear Friday that, despite the tragic circumstances, the prosecution intends to continue and conduct the trial.