Shula Zaken at Talansky Affair retrial where she testified against her former boss, Ehud Olmert.
(photo credit: GIL YOCHANAN/POOL)
In the last day of Shula Zaken's testimony in the Talansky retrial on Sunday, she said that former prime minister Ehud Olmert promised her $10,000 per month if she refused the state's plea bargain to turn state's witness against him.
Olmert's former chief-of-staff took the state's deal and turned against her around three-decades-long boss to get several years of prison cut from her sentence and said she never received the funds.
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 properly reporting 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 district court for a retrial on the basis of new dramatic evidence being revealed, including tapes of Zaken-Olmert conversations, Zaken's journal and Zaken's turning state's witness against Olmert.
Olmert's lead lawyer for the retrial, Eyal Rozovsky, who joined up with his prior lawyer, Eli Zohar, pounded away at Zaken's inconsistent stories and credibility for a fourth and final day of cross-examination after one day in which she had testified against Olmert for the state.
Last week, Zaken testified that Olmert used funds from Talansky for illegal personal uses, such as for cigars, tailored suits and dry cleaning.
However, Rozovsky got Zaken to admit that none of these items appeared in her journal which the prosecution has held up as an ace in the hole against Olmert.
Rozovsky also got Zaken to admit that the $30,000 or more that she claimed Olmert gave her from the unreported funds did not appear in the journal.
But as strident as she has been throughout the retrial, Zaken said that Olmert confirmed many of these issues on the tapes she made of her conversations with him which have been given to the court as evidence.
After her cross-examination ended, lead prosecutor Uri Korb emphasized that even if Zaken's testimony had inconsistencies that she had only testified to provide context and that there was enough evidence to convict Olmert based only on the tapes of him along with those payments that were illegal which he made which were listed in the journal.
The narrative got extremely hairy at one point as Zaken tried to explain her allegation that Olmert had asked her to lie in the Tel Aviv Holyland trial that she had accepted a larger bribe than what she had accepted in order to better defend him.
The changed narrative led to a surreal situation in which her lawyer Ofer Bartal and Holyland Judge David Rozen both told her she should take a break from testifying since she seemed to be changing her story to further incriminate herself – a break which led to several days of hospitalization when she had a nervous breakdown.
With all of the changed dynamics from the original trial, one issue which has remained relatively constant is that the three judge panel has ruled against Korb on a range of issues and has been derisive of some of his tactics far more than Judge Rozen did regarding the prosecution in the Holyland trial.
The trial continues on December 14 with the highly anticipated testimony of Olmert himself – his chance to try to directly explain or rebut the new evidence the state has brought against him in the retrial.