Testimony in Corruption Case Postponed as Former PM's Top Aide Hospitalized

Ehud Olmert's former aide Shula Zaken takes ill after telling of financial, romantic relationship with state witness, who has died since.

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Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s top aide, Shula Zaken, was hospitalized Wednesday and her cross-examination at the Holyland trial, due to start Thursday, has been postponed.

Zaken stopped testifying on Wednesday in the midst of a tense hearing focusing on her romantic relations with deceased state’s witness Shmuel Dechner.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge David Rozen granted Zaken’s request to put off her cross-examination to Sunday. If she is not well enough by then, the next defendant in the case, Eliezer Simhayoff, who is charged with receiving bribes in the Holyland case, will be called to the stand.

Zaken is charged with taking bribes from Dechner, both on her own initiative and at Olmert’s request, in exchange for Olmert’s smoothing over of legal and zoning obstacles for the Holyland real estate project in Jerusalem. The charges stem from Olmert’s tenure as mayor of Jerusalem and afterward as minister of industry and trade, prior to his 2006 election as prime minister.

Yesterday Zaken continued her testimony about the money she received from Dechner. When asked by her attorney about the five checks for NIS 20,000 each she had received from Dachner in 2004, her answers became confused. Zaken burst into tears and said it was difficult for her to testify. She said Dechner had ruined her life and the police had violently raided her sister’s house, as a result of which the two have stopped speaking to each other.

Zaken was replying to questions prepared in advance by her lawyers as part of the direct examination. Today she was to be cross-examined by prosecutor Yonatan Tadmor.

Rozen joined in the questioning yesterday and told Zaken at times that her testimony was not plausible.

At some point the judge told Zaken to answer to the point and not go into stories of the damage the affair had caused her.

Shula Zaken at her trial.Credit: Nimrod Saunders

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