Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
(photo credit: YOTAM RONEN)
On a 4-1 vote, the Supreme Court on Sunday agreed to the state’s request to review the Shula Zaken tapes, a sign of the court leaning toward granting the state’s bigger request for a retrial of the Talansky Affair against Ehud Olmert.
Though the court said that its agreeing to review the tapes did not reflect on how it might rule on the greater question of a retrial, the very fact that the court has agreed to review the tapes means it is seriously considering the state’s extraordinary request.
The former prime minister’s best chance at avoiding a retrial on charges for which he was acquitted is to block the state from even showing the Supreme Court the tapes on the grounds that the trial verdict was set back in July 2012 and should not be revisited at all.
But Supreme Court President Asher D. Grunis, Justices Salim Joubran, Neal Hendel and Uzi Vogelman all voted in favor of reviewing the tapes, with only Justice Yoram Danziger voting against.
In mid-June, an expanded five-justice panel of the Supreme Court heard the state’s motion for a retrial of Olmert’s acquittal in the Talansky Affair.
In an incredible moment of candor, Danziger essentially told the parties that at the moment that the state filed its motion, the Supreme Court had been divided and in the process of figuring out how to break their disagreement about whether to grant the state’s earlier request appealing Olmert’s acquittal.
The retrial motion would freeze the appeal before the Supreme Court and send the case back to the Jerusalem District Court that acquitted Olmert in July 2012.
The state defended the request of a retrial – despite the verdict being almost two years old – noting that if ever there was a case to allow such a request, it was this case, allegedly with newly discovered tape recordings of Olmert pressuring former top aide Zaken not to cooperate with the state.
Olmert’s lawyer, Eli Zohar, doubled down, saying that the tape’s, in and of themselves, were not a silver bullet and would require Zaken to testify at trial.
He added that getting an impermissible second chance at Zaken testifying against Olmert post the verdict was the real and hidden purpose of the state’s motion.
In Sunday’s decision, the court said that it had not yet decided anything regarding the state’s request to enter Zaken’s journal into evidence as part of any retrial – a journal which allegedly contains extremely damaging information against Olmert.
The journal was not allowed into evidence in the original trial because Zaken refused to testify, but now that Zaken is willing to testify as part of her Holyland trial plea bargain, the state has argued that the court should accept the journal into evidence.