Former Aide Zaken Admits to Lying in Court; 'Olmert Was God to Me'

‘After I was convicted and he was acquitted, Master Olmert had no time to ask how I was,’ former PM’s top aide tells court during cross examination.

Gil Yohanan

Shula Zaken, the ex-bureau chief of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, admitted on the first day of her cross examination yesterday that she had lied in her previous testimony, but said she only did it for Olmert, who was “her God.” Olmert’s lawyer tried to undermine her testimony and show that she had planned to incriminate the former PM in order to extort money from him.

“I lied at his request and the money was meant for my defense, so that I can tell the lies he asked me to tell,” Zaken said in her cross examination by attorney Eyal Rosovsky at the Jerusalem District Court on Thursday.

Asked if she would have lied without the money she said, “For him I would have lied. I never refused him anything.”

Zaken, who served as Olmert’s right-hand woman and was convicted together with him in the Holyland affair, testified against him this week as a state witness.

Asked if Olmert had taught her how to lie she said, “He didn’t teach me to lie, he taught me the system, so that his family members could travel.”

Throughout the court session Rosovsky called Zaken greedy and a liar and accused her of lying in other trials she had testified in. He portrayed her as a corrupt woman who would do anything to save herself from the harsh sentence she was expected to be given in the Holyland case.

Zaken told the court her relations with the man she worshipped went sour when Olmert’s former lawyer in the Holyland case, Roy Blecher, “appeared on television and called me a liar.”

Zaken said Blecher tried to persuade her former lawyer Micha Fettman to act for Olmert, who even paid his fees. “Olmert was God to me, until Blecher came to Fettman and told him, ‘we know where you’re getting money, so you’d better work with us’” she said.

Rosovsky said: “You have a long career with Mr. Olmert. He was like a father to you, a life project. You were willing to lie for him. We saw in the previous session your great hatred toward him. You’d like to see him in prison.”

“I have no interest in seeing him in prison,” Zaken said. “Meanwhile I’m the one sitting in jail, I’m the one paying for my mistakes. I’m disappointed, hurt, but hate? Don’t say that.”

She told the court how hurt she had been when Olmert ignored her, even after she had been convicted and he was acquitted in the Rishon Tours affair.

“After I was convicted and he was acquitted, Master Olmert had no time to ask how I was. Three days he didn’t talk to me. I have to pay a 40,000 shekel fine for [something I didn’t do], but he has no time to call,” she said.

Even then she wasn’t angry enough to go the police, she said. “Even after he sold me out I remained loyal.”

Olmert’s lawyer played recordings from Zaken’s conversation with her medium, in which she said Olmert had fixed her a job with Alfred Akirov, to ensure that she had enough money but the deal didn’t come through.

“I’m going to bust him up,” she says in the recording. “Why must I have to worry each month if I have food or not and you’re sitting on 30 companiesI said arrange me a monthly wage, so that I’ll be calm and be able to pay my mortgage.”

Olmert has been accused of receiving donations from New York businessman Morris Talansky between 1997 and 2005 and not reporting on them properly. He was acquitted of charges of fraud, breach of trust and concealing fraudulent earnings in 2012. But in 2013 the Supreme Court ordered a retrial after Zaken handed over secret recordings and promised to testify about journal entries on money transfers between Olmert and an associate of his, under a plea bargain she made.