Holyland Verdict Imminent |

Former PM Olmert 'Suspected' of Obstructing Justice

New evidence from ex-aide could lead to former PM's arrest.

Shula Zaken, left, and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Sept. 24, 2012.
Shula Zaken, left, and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Sept. 24, 2012.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Shula Zaken has given the police evidence that ostensibly prove the former prime minister tried to obstruct justice in the so-called "Holyland case."

Zaken has been questioned by police over the last few days over this new information pointing to Olmert's possible obstruction of justice.

The Tel Aviv District Court is due to issue a verdict in the case on Monday.

Zaken's most recent version of events is more solid than the version she gave police at the start of the month. Even then she claimed Olmert had been obstructing justice, saying he had visited her at home and tried to persuade her not to turn state's witness against him. But she did not provide evidence of his alleged misconduct. A week ago Zaken "upgraded" her offer to the prosecution, proffering additional evidence.

A year ago Zaken rejected a plea bargain that would have had her doing 11 months behind bars.

As Haaretz previously reported, the prosecution met in Jerusalem on Wednesday to discuss developments regarding Zaken’s most-recent testimony, which could lead to Olmert being arrested, an unprecedented event in Israel’s history.

At the meeting were State Prosecutor Shay Nitzan, his assistant Eli Abravanel, Tel Aviv District Prosecutor (tax and financial) Liat Ben Ari, Holyland case prosecutor, Yonatan Tadmor and a senior official from the Israel Police investigative and intelligence unit.

'Smear campaign'

In response to news reports about the meeting, Olmert’s defense team released a statement, saying, “Following the media smear campaign and the unending leaks of information from the police and the prosecution, we repeat our statement that those leaks will disrupt the proceedings and seriously harm the purity of the case," the team stated.

“After two requests to reopen the Holyland case were turned down yesterday, information leaked from the law enforcement system that the decision was made to open an obstruction of justice case. These leaks have only one goal: to influence the end of the legal proceedings, and the impending court ruling. By doing so, law enforcement officials are disrupting the legal process, while they trample all regulations and due process, trying to turn smoke into fire. We reject these developments, as they are based on lies that can be easily disproved,” the defense lawyers continued.

Court refuses to force plea bargain for Zaken

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court denied a petition by the Movement for Quality Government to order the prosecution to sign a state’s witness agreement with Zaken.

Justices Isaac Amit, Zvi Zylbertal and Noam Sohlberg said in the ruling that the court tends not to involve itself in prosecution considerations regarding plea bargains.

“All the more reason not to get involved in this instance, as the movement is asking that the court force the prosecution to sign a state’s witness agreement, which would make the court directly involved in the administration of a criminal case,” wrote the judges. “Especially as the appeal is pending in the Supreme Court, and the proceedings at the district level are about to result in a ruling.”

The justices rejected the Movement for Quality Government’s claim that the prosecution’s decision not to sign an agreement with Zaken, as well as its decision not to make her provide additional testimony is completely unacceptable, and harms public faith in the government and the rule of law.

They also said, “We did not find a basis for suspicions that the prosecution did not act in good faith, with ulterior motives or against the public interest. It seems that the prosecution’s decision was reasonable, and based on professional considerations.”

During the hearing on Tuesday, the prosecution asked the judges to review a classified document detailing developments in the case in the past week, including, knowledgable observers suspect, Zaken’s testimony.

Shula Zaken at her trial.Credit: Nimrod Saunders

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