Former Olmert aide denies charges as Holyland trials continue
Shula Zaken, Olmert's former bureau chief, pleads not guilty to charges of bribery and money-laundering.
Shula Zaken, who served as bureau chief for former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of bribery and money-laundering in the Holyland real estate scandal.
Zaken is accused of taking bribes totaling an estimated NIS 350,000, and using those bribes to pay for a home. She was indicted two months ago.
Several other former senior municipal officials in Jerusalem - including Olmert, who served previously as Jerusalem mayor - were indicted along with Zaken in the affair. All are suspected of giving or taking bribes between 2003 and 2007 to advance various real estate ventures, most notably the Holyland luxury housing project in Jerusalem.
Zaken told Tel Aviv District Court Judge David Rozen yesterday that she did not have the money to pay her lawyer and would have to find a new one. She requested a continuance to find another lawyer and to make arrangements for her son's bar mitzvah. "I am a mother, I have a son who will become a bar mitzvah in another two and a half months," she said. "The boy was 7 years old when the police came in at 6 A.M. to arrest his mother. I am in court three times a week from morning to night. I ask that I be given the opportunity to finish up the bar mitzvah."
Zaken is involved in three separate criminal cases. She is awaiting sentencing following her conviction two weeks ago, in the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, of fraud and breach of trust. She was convicted of helping her brother Yoram Karshi influence improper appointments of senior officials in the Tax Authority.
Meanwhile, she is standing trial in the Jerusalem District Court, together with Olmert, for her alleged part in the so-called Rishon Tours affair. Olmert is accused of billing both the state and various organizations for travel expenses. She is also named in the "money envelopes" affair, in which Olmert is accused of taking large sums of money from Jewish philanthropist Morris Talansky.
Charges against Zaken in the case before the Tel Aviv District Court include aggravated fraud, falsifying corporate documents and breach of trust.