Court Rejects Bid to Delay Testimony of Key Witness in Olmert Trial

Olmert's defense team asking AG to investigate harassment of Hadas Saltzman, witness in Rishon Tours affair.

The Petah Tikva District Court on Thursday dismissed an appeal submitted by Ehud Olmert's defense team to delay hearing the testimony of a witness allegedly subjected to harassment during the corruption probe against the former prime minister.

The defense team representing Olmert, who is currently on trial for corruption charges, submitted an urgent complaint to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein demanding that he investigate suspicions related to obstruction of justice, subornation of evidence and the harassment of Hadar Saltzman, a key witness in the Rishon Tours "double billing" affair. .

Ehud Olmert
Daniel Bar-On

The allegations come in the wake of a document revealed during Tuesday's hearing, which included 32 pages of questions and answers written by a prosecution attorney and handed to Saltzman.

Saltzman had worked as Olmert's travel agent at the agency. The defense team claimed the document was meant to guide the witness to give answers supporting the case for the prosecution.

"We cannot overestimate the gravity of feeding a prosecution witness with polished answers designed to ensure that the witness repeat the exact answers convenient to the prosecution," Olmert's attorneys wrote.

The prosecution rejected the claims out of hand. "Every day Olmert's defense officials and PR team engage in futile maneuvers inside and outside the court room, sometimes claiming facts which are incorrect," a statement from the prosecution said.

The prosecution said the document consists solely of quotes from Saltzman's testimony in court, but Olmert's associates claim that even presenting the questions can amount to the serious offense of subornation of evidence. They also said the document contains commentary, highlights and tendentious editing of what the witness told the police.

'They understood the gravity of their actions'

"The fact that the prosecution concealed the document from the defense and from the court indicates they understood the gravity of their own actions," Olmert's media advisor Amir Dan said Thursday.

Attorney General Weinstein, who prior to his appointment served on the Olmert defense team, is not expected to be involved in reviewing the request made by Olmert's team, having signed a commitment not to be involved in any decisions concerning former clients.

Nevertheless, Olmert's lawyers argued that the complaint will have to reach the attorney general's desk as it necessitates the investigation of senior officials from the prosecution side.

Hours after submitting the complaint to the attorney general, the lawyers also submitted a court demand to stop Saltzman from continuing her testimony on Thursday.