The High Court of Justice on Tuesday ordered the state to explain by March 18 why it had not cut a plea bargain with Shula Zaken to testify against her former boss and prime minister Ehud Olmert in the Holyland trial.
The court’s decision came following a petition filed earlier that day by the Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel to compel the state to cut a deal with Zaken.
At the end of last week, the prosecution ended a round of speculation about whether Zaken, who has been a firewall for Olmert throughout all of the corruption charges brought against him in the past five years, would get a deal for a shorter jail sentence, deciding not to grant her a deal.
The NGO sent a letter to the state on Sunday – later paraphrased in the petition – requesting that it reconsider its decision not to cut a plea bargain with Zaken regarding the Holyland trial – which involves charges of bribery and fraud against Olmert.
Olmert vehemently denied the charges against him, blasting Zaken and the prosecution, saying this was a witchhunt and an attempt to tarnish his name in the media.
The Movement asked Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein and State Attorney Shai Nitzan to cut a deal with Zaken to get her to testify against Olmert and to allow the court to decide whether or not to accept her new round of testimony.
The NGO rejected one of the prosecution’s stated reasons for not cutting a deal with her – that she had no independent confirmations of her accusations against Olmert.
The Movement said that the prosecution wanted Zaken to turn state’s witness against Olmert earlier on in the case, which it said proved that Zaken’s testimony against Olmert could be valuable.
The prosecution, besides saying that Zaken could not corroborate her allegations against Olmert, noted the late stage of the case and implied that there would have been significant legal difficulty in presenting Zaken’s allegations after she had already testified under oath to a different version of events.