Prosecution Deems Olmert's Former Partner a Hostile Witness in Corruption Case

Uri Messer, Olmert's former law partner, is accused of contradicting himself in his statements in court and to the police.

Prosecutors in the corruption case of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert requested that one of their witnesses be considered a hostile witness after he verbally attacked another prosecution witness in his testimony.

Uri Messer, a confidante of Olmert, disparaged Shmuel Mordechai, the former head of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor's Investment Center. Messer contended on the witness stand that Mordechai wanted to exact revenge on Olmert for having fired him, and that was the reason that he was testifying against Olmert.

Uri Messer
Olivier Fittousi

Messer is testifying against Olmert in what is known as the Investment Center affair, in which Olmert allegedly granted favors illegally to Messer, his former law firm partner.

In August 2009, Olmert became the first former Israeli prime minister to face criminal proceedings, after he was indicted on three corruption charges relating to his time as a cabinet minister and mayor of Jerusalem.

After Messer was cross-examined by Olmert's defense lawyer, prosecution lawyer Uri Korev requested that Messer be considered a hostile witness, and asked that he be able to question Messer again in that capacity. Korev stated that Messer had lied on the witness stand and that his testimonies to police and the court contradicted one another.

Olmert's public relations adviser Amir Dan said, "The prosecution has a technique that they keep using again and again. When they call up a witness whose testimony does not perfectly fit with the narrative that the prosecution is trying to establish, they immediately call them a hostile witness."

"It's time that the prosecution understand that the actual facts as they occurred are also an option," Dan said, "and not only the fictitious stories that appear in the charge sheet."