Olmert - Tomer Appelbaum
Olmert, in red, in a Jerusalem courthouse last week. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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The defense attorney and prosecutor in the trial of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and Olmert himself, have flown to New York to question witnesses. Olmert is also being tried in this case of fraud and other charges.

The witnesses are to be questioned by Deputy Jerusalem District Prosecutor Uri Corb and Olmert defense attorney Navit Negev on the matter of the Rishon Tours affair, involving Olmert's alleged double-billing of public bodies for trips to speaking engagements in the United States.

The testimony will be transmitted to the District Court in Jerusalem via videoconference. The prosecution needed to conduct the questioning in New York as most of the witnesses working for the organizations that funded Olmert's flights live there.

The witnesses will be asked whether they knew that Olmert had also received funding for the flights they had covered from other organizations.

Among those expected to testify is Ari Hier, head of the Wiesenthal Center, regarding a $5,675 ticket that the center paid for - while the same flight was allegedly paid for by three other bodies: Israel Bonds; the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry; and Aleh, an association that helps disabled children.

People associated with Israel Bonds, Yad Vashem, Elem (an organization for at-risk youth ) and other groups are also expected to testify.

Another witness is Rachel Moore, who was Olmert's travel coordinator before Rachel Risby-Raz. The latter was a central witness in the case so far. As opposed to Risby-Raz, Moore was certain that Olmert knew of the double billing, according to a transcript of her questioning reported by Haaretz.

Moore also told investigators how one of the bodies had complained to her about a trip they were funding which had already been paid for by another organization. She said she spoke about it directly with Olmert, and that he told her to tell the group that it did not have to pay - and he would not appear.

The witnesses will testify in the Brooklyn offices of the attorney general for east New York. Seven sessions are expected to be held.