Prosecutors Decide Against Deal With Shula Zaken

Decision based on advanced stage of proceedings against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s former bureau chief, as well as lack of corroborating evidence.

Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel
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Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel

The State Prosecutor’s Office announced late Thursday that it would not be signing a state’s witness agreement with Shula Zaken, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s former bureau chief.

However, negotiations with Zaken’s attorneys are expected to continue regarding the options available to them.

Following a marathon meeting of over 12 hours, the prosecution issued a statement that it had informed Zaken’s attorneys “that it had been decided not to continue communication with them regarding pending matters against their client, this despite statements that she made on the matter of the involvement of others in the commission of criminal offenses.”

Zaken was to have given the prosecution new testimony incriminating Olmert.
The prosecution said it had made the decision due to a variety of considerations, “including the advanced stage of some of the proceedings against Zaken – at which additional evidence can only be presented to the court under very extenuating circumstances.”

Additionally, the prosecution said that Zaken had not presented external evidence supporting her claims.

Present at the meeting, held at the office of State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan in Jerusalem, were the Tel Aviv district prosecutor for economic and tax crimes, Liat Ben-Ari, the head of the Holyland prosecution team, Yehonatan Tadmor, and the deputy state prosecutor, Eli Abarbanel.

Prosecutors continued examining the materials all day yesterday and discussed the legal implications of re-opening the evidentiary phase of the Holyland affair as well as other cases involving Olmert now before the High Court of Justice – the RishonTours double-billing affair and the Talansky money-envelopes affair. The version Zaken gave the prosecution was a general outline only.

During questioning on Wednesday, Zaken confirmed the prosecution’s version that Olmert had indeed requested state’s witness Shmuel Dechner to help his brother Yossi Olmert. Zaken also confirmed that Olmert had asked Dechner to help him with money to cover debts.

Zaken also said that Olmert had asked Dechner to help her pay for the apartment in which she now lives in the Malha neighborhood of Jerusalem. The prosecution noted as background to the indictment that Dechner had given Zaken $100,000 to buy the apartment, but did not know that Olmert had been a go-between in the matter. However, the statute of limitations applies to this charge.

Both Olmert and Zaken are on trial in the Holyland Park case. Olmert is charged with taking bribes from developers of the residential project while serving first as mayor of Jerusalem and then as industry minister.

Shula Zaken in Tel Aviv District Court, February 25, 2014. Credit: Moti Milrod

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