Shula Zaken, previously the chief assistant of former prime minister Ehud Olmert, gave testimony to the police’s Lahav 433 unit on Thursday about obstruction of justice and witness tampering during the recently-concluded Holyland trial, in which both she and Olmert were found guilty of accepting bribes.
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Police are expected to question Olmert in the coming days concerning the new information provided by Zaken, which included recordings.
In terms of a plea bargain reached with the prosecutors office, Zaken has agreed to admit to taking bribes and serve an 11-month prison sentence in return for testifying against Olmert. The plea bargain was reached just prior to the verdict in the Holyland trial and trial judge David Rozen has already given notice that he will not necessarily adopt it.
“If this is about cleaning out the stables, I’ll be open and attentive. But if it’s only about obstructing an investigation, that’s less significant to me,” he said. “I imagine that you knew why she testified as she did.” He added that, “This is not some petty clerk. She is an independent factor. I will want to know exactly why you’re requesting what you’re requesting.”
On Tuesday, the team of trial prosecutors met with State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, in order to make decisions about Zaken’s new information. One thing the prosecution has to decide is whether to turn to the High Court of Justice - which is discussing a petition filed by the state regarding Olmert’s acquittal in the Rishon Tours and Talansky cases - with a request that Zaken be summoned to give testimony.
Zaken’s new testimony is believed to concern, among other things, Olmert’s assistance in paying for Zaken’s defense in the trial that took place in the Jerusalem District Court. The prosecution will also want to present to Rozen recordings of her conversations and meetings with Olmert, which she claims strengthen the accusations against him in the Rishon Tours and Talansky cases. Zaken’s testimony will also make it possible to use her diaries, which recorded the transfer of money from Talansky and Olmert’s method of paying for his trips, which were not submitted to the court due to her silence.
Meanwhile, a well-known businessman will be questioned by police about whether Olmert gave Zaken hush money through him. Other business people are also expected to be questioned.
During the Holyland investigation it was discovered that hundreds of thousands of shekels from overseas were deposited in the bank accounts of one of Zaken's sons. The probe found that $50,000 which Zaken received from businessman Daniel Abraham was deposited in her son's account. In October Olmert testified that he aided Zaken's defense fund with money from Abraham.
"I'm very happy that he helped her, a girl who is left with almost nothing, to pay for her legal expenses. She worked with me for 40 years, what did you think, that I would abandon her?" Olmert had answered in response to the prosecutor's question.