(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Prisons Service parole board decided to approve Shula Zaken’s request to cut one-third of the time off of her prison sentence on Monday.
Zaken, who served as former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s bureau chief, was sentenced to 11 months in prison as part of a plea deal after she agreed to testify against him.
She was convicted of multiple bribery charges in the Holyland real estate affair as part of the plea deal, but received a shorter sentence instead of the around six years in prison she likely would have received.
Following the parole board ruling to shorten her sentence, she is expected to be released on January 26.
In addition to the parole board cut, Zaken was also receiving an administrative sentence cut, meaning she will actually serve less than seven months.
Zaken began serving her prison term at Neveh Tirza Prison in Ramle in July.
Zaken’s “short” 11-month sentence came from a plea bargain she cut with the state to testify against Olmert and provide incriminating recordings that would assist the prosecution in its attempt to seek a retrial of the Talansky Affair and to file a new indictment against Olmert for obstruction of justice in pushing her not to cooperate with the state.
The former bureau chief has provided prosecutors with a wide range of recorded telephone conversations with Olmert which filled the airwaves for several days and have likely permanently altered public perception of Olmert, regardless of the outcome of the Talansky retrial.
Zaken also took the stand against Olmert and undercut his defenses which had obtained him an acquittal in the original Talansky trial acquittal in July 2012.
Recently the state also raised new evidence from Zaken with the Supreme Court to try to beat back Olmert’s appeal of his Holyland bribery conviction and six-year prison sentence, which has been stayed pending the appeal since May.
Before turning state’s witness against Olmert, which Zaken said she did partially after Olmert’s lawyer called her “corrupt” on television, she had served Olmert faithfully in all of his political and private sector positions for over 30 years.
While Zaken’s early parole is likely to go through, with the prosecution pleased with her cooperation, the Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel and Labor MK Miki Rosenthal slammed the decision.
Rosenthal said the decision was like “spitting in the face of the struggle against corruption, and all that was missing was reserving her [Zaken] a spot on the Yisrael Beytenu” list – following the recent explosion of corruption charges against the party.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.