Businessman's alleged suicide abruptly ends Zaken cross-examination

Zaken responds to pressure about taping Olmert: "I'm glad I had this joker to play."

November 13, 2014 19:14
2 minute read.
Shula Zaken

Shula Zaken at Talansky Affair retrial where she testified against her former boss, Ehud Olmert. (photo credit: GIL YOCHANAN/POOL)


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Shula Zaken’s third day of cross-examination in the retrial of the Talansky Affair against former prime minister Ehud Olmert in the Jerusalem District Court ended abruptly on Thursday, when she and Olmert began loudly quarreling over the alleged suicide of a businessman known to be close to them and other Likud members.

During the altercation, Zaken angrily accused Olmert of portraying the dead man as only his friend and not hers.

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In response, Olmert jumped up and accused Zaken of using the dead man’s memory to attack him, saying, “It is not right to give her the chance to tarnish me” upon his death.

Police said the man was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in his car in an open area near Tel Aviv’s Gival Shaul Cemetery with a handgun nearby, and they ruled it a suicide.

The news of the man’s death had emerged earlier in the hearing and Zaken had requested to postpone further cross-examination, but the court initially refused her request.

The Talansky retrial relates to allegations that Olmert received large volumes of cash in envelopes from US businessman Morris Talansky, which he allegedly illegally used for personal purposes as opposed to permitted political purposes, and did not properly report the funds as political donations.

Olmert was acquitted by the Jerusalem District Court of the charges in July 2012, but this past summer the Supreme Court sent the case back to the court for retrial on the basis of dramatic new evidence being revealed, including tapes of Zaken-Olmert conversations, and Zaken’s journal – and after Zaken turned state’s witness against Olmert.

Earlier, Olmert’s lawyer Eyal Rozovsky bore down on her as he has in prior days, trying to portray her allegations against Olmert as lies and her tapes and journal as falsified or tampered with.

Rozovsky said that Zaken had deleted 16 items from a disk and possibly dozens more from her telephone which she used to record her conversations with Olmert.

He portrayed her as having deleted the conversations to cover up lies in her story.

Zaken said, “I have no idea who deleted [some of the taped conversations], maybe it was Nadav [her son], on his own. I didn’t delete anything.” If Nadav did it to protect her privacy, she said, “I thank Nadav.”

Rozovsky also blasted Zaken for allegedly contradicting herself in explaining her motivations for secretly taping Olmert.

Zaken responded, “What does it matter if I recorded [Olmert] because I missed him or I wanted to save my own skin,” since “I didn’t tell him what to say.” The tapes speak for themselves as evidence against Olmert, she said.

“At the time I did not think that the tapes would save my skin,” she added, “but now I am happy that I have this card to play, this joker.”

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