Only days before his sentencing in the Holyland trial, former prime minister Ehud Olmert was questioned for three hours by police Sunday under suspicion of having obstructed justice by trying to convince his former top aide, Shula Zaken, not to cooperate with the prosecution in the various corruption cases against him.
Olmert is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday for his March 23 conviction on bribery charges in the Holyland real-estate case.
The new investigation into Olmert, separate from the Holyland case, came after Zaken signed a plea bargain with the State Attorney’s Office in mid-March.
In the framework of the agreement, Zaken reportedly provided the prosecution with a list of alleged attempts by Olmert, some on tape, to pressure her not to cooperate with the cases against him. Olmert was already lengthily questioned on the matter in early April. The much shorter questioning on Sunday could be a sign that the police are nearing the end of their investigation.
Olmert’s spokesman, Amir Dan, has denied the charges and blasted law enforcement for the latest investigation and for initiating it in the sensitive period between Olmert’s conviction and sentencing in the Holyland case.
The former prime minister is expected to appeal his conviction and his sentence, whatever it may be, though his lawyers tried to convince the court to sentence him to community service and not to the six years in prison that the state requested.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Tel Aviv District Court Judge David Rozen ordered to postpone the sentencing for former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski and former Jerusalem municipal official Avraham Penner until at least June 9 because on negotiations between the defendants and the prosecution.
Rozen previously told the sides that he was inclined to sentence both men to community service and to waive jail time in light of their poor health conditions and since all of Lupolianski’s bribes were earmarked for the charity Yad Sarah.
A Justice Ministry spokesman confirmed that the sides were consulting about an agreed punishment and that they would be presenting the outcome of those discussions to the court in the near future. One issue apparently being evaluated is whether Lupolianski’s health will stand prison time.
The court ordered that any community service Penner is sentenced to will have to take into account that he is physically limited to a wheelchair.