The prosecution finished cross-examining former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s
bureau chief Shula Zaken on Tuesday in the Holyland trial, with the court
implying that she had asked for bribes on behalf of Olmert.
At the end of
her questioning, Tel Aviv District Court Judge David Rozen asked her to explain
an apparent discrepancy in her testimony.
Zaken admitted to receiving
substantial funds, in one case a lump sum of NIS 350,000, expensive jewelry and
other items from Shmuel Duchner, the main state witness who claimed that he was
the front man for the Holyland project who bribed Olmert, Zaken and
But for most of the trial, Zaken maintained that even though
Duchner had an interest in favorable treatment for his project by Olmert’s
office during his term as mayor from the years 1993-1999, everything Duchner
gave her was not a bribe, Olmert did not know about it and it was all “gifts”
because she had a quasiromantic relationship with Duchner.
this line of defense even when she intended on using some of the funds from
Duchner to cover Olmert’s post-election debts, saying that Olmert did not know
about the money and that Duchner refused to give funds earmarked for Olmert’s
debts, but told her she could do whatever she wanted with them.
Tuesday she admitted that she had asked Duchner for funds to commission polling
data relating to the redeployment from Gaza in 2005 on behalf of
Asked to explain the discrepancy, she said that Duchner gave her
the money not as a bribe, but because of her affection for her and because “he
knew Olmert was important to me.”
The dramatic discrepancy capped three
weeks of sensational back and forth between Zaken, the lawyers and the court,
including a nervous break-down on the stand followed by her
Former Bank Hapoalim chairman Dan Dankner started
testifying following Zaken, on accusations that he bribed Duchner’s former aide
Meir Rabin, a relative of Yaakov Efrati, then director of the Israel Lands
Authority, to get favorable government treatment for Israel Salt Industries
Ltd., of which he was chairman, including rezoning salt flats in Atlit and
Dankner admitted paying Rabin to help him navigate the maze of
dealing with public obstacles to Israel Salt Industries projects, but said that
he wanted assistance to handle the issue in a legal manner, and flatly denied
that the payments were bribes.
The former bank chairman added that if
anyone “said the word bribe” to him “they would have been thrown out of my
Only last week, the Tel Aviv District Court convicted Dankner of
fraud, breach of trust, violation of proper management of Bank Hapoalim and
illegal receipt of funds and loans as part of a plea bargain
In concurrence with the agreement, Dankner agreed to pay a NIS
1 million penalty.
The conviction brought to an end a trial against a man
who was once viewed as one of the most powerful businessmen in Israel, with
influence on a range of national issues, but not to extricate him from the
Dankner may still face jail time in another case in which
his sentencing has yet to be set.
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