Supreme Court President Asher D. Grunis on Tuesday delayed the start date for Ehud Olmert’s prison time from September 1 likely until at least sometime in October.
The decision came following a procedural request by the state to hold a hearing on all Holyland convicted defendants who are appealing their convictions at once regarding whether their jail time will be delayed more extensively pending their appeals.
With Olmert’s appeal, due to be filed Wednesday, a win on the next delay could buy him months or even over a year.
If the Talansky Affair, currently on appeal, is sent back for retrial by the Supreme Court, or if there is a new indictment against him, there could be even more delay.
Shula Zaken, the powerful former chief-of-staff to then-prime minister Olmert, became on July 15 the first of the infamous Holyland defendants to go behind bars. She had been given until September to begin her prison sentence, but moved up her start date voluntarily, reportedly with the hope that an early release could get her home to her family for the spring Passover holiday.
All of the other convicted Holyland defendants, including Olmert, have appealed or plan to appeal their convictions, such that it is unclear when they may start to serve their prison terms, some as high as six to seven years.
Zaken tweeted a message Monday thanking her friends for support during the eight years she has been under investigation.
Her “short” 11-month sentence came from a plea bargain she cut with the state to testify and provide tapes against Olmert in its attempt to seek a retrial of the Talansky Affair and to file a new indictment against him for alleged obstruction of justice in pushing her not to cooperate with the state.
On July 6, by a 4-1 vote, the Supreme Court on Sunday agreed to the state’s request to review the Zaken tapes, a sign of the court leaning toward granting the state’s bigger request for a retrial of the Talansky Affair.
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 showing the Supreme Court the tapes, on the grounds that the trial verdict was set in July 2012 and should not be revisited.
But Grunis and justices Salim Joubran, Neal Hendel and Uzi Vogelman voted in favor of reviewing the tapes, with 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.