Police deny Zaken state-witness rumor

Follows report ex-Olmert aide may testify against him over Holyland.

April 21, 2010 14:46
2 minute read.
Police deny Zaken state-witness rumor

shula zaken 248 88 aj. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )

Police denied Wednesday that Ehud Olmert's former aide, Shula Zaken, was approached with an offer to become a state witness against the ex-premier in the Holyland real estate scandal.

"She was called to the investigation over a week ago, and has yet to present herself," they underlined. "There is no truth to these rumors. They have not been issued by the police or her lawyer's office."

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The denial comes amid reports that Shula Zaken's lawyer was expected to give a "dramatic" press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Army Radio reported that Attorney Micha Fetman, who has met Zaken in the US in recent days, was due to respond to claims of her alleged involvement in the affair, and could speak of the possibility of Zaken testifying against Olmert.

Meanwhile, three other suspects in the case were released to 10 days house arrest Wednesday after appealing to the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court against their remands. Businessmen Hillel Charni and Avigdor Kelner, as well as former city engineer Uri Sheetrit, will be under restrictions, which include a ban on leaving the country.

Olmert is set to be interrogated this week, and his spokesman Amir Dan told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday evening that police would not notify the ex-prime minister of plans to question him until a few hours before is takes place.

“They won’t coordinate it with us ahead of time,” Dan said.

Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem when plans for an enlarged Holyland residential complex were approved by the municipality – a procedure police say was driven by widespread bribery.

The former prime minister is suspected of accepting large bribes from project backer Charni, in exchange for helping to ensure that the construction plans received approval. Olmert has denied all allegations against him.

On Monday, the Petah Tikva District Court rejected an appeal by former deputy mayor and current city councilman Eliezer Simhayoff against the decision last week by the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court to extended his custody by eight days.

Simhayoff was arrested last week on suspicion of demanding and receiving hundreds of thousands of shekels in bribes. Police said he “divided the cash between himself and others in the municipality.”

His attorney, Moshe Osditsher, argued that there was no logic in holding his client in custody “while the main suspects in the case have been released,” referring to the recent release to house arrest of former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupalionski and Holyland company accountant Eliyahu Hasson.

Judge Avraham Tal of the Petah Tikva court upheld the remand extension, saying classified case material made available to him by police showed that Simhayoff’s alleged role in the affair was unrelated to those of the suspects who had been released, and that there was no sound basis for releasing him.

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