(photo credit: REUTERS)
According to a series of alleged text messages unveiled late Wednesday night by Channel 10, former prime minister Ehud Olmert convinced his former top aide Shula Zaken not to testify against him in the Holyland trial with indirect financial assistance, job placement assistance, and assistance with vacationing at a discount.
Many of the disclosed text messages are from around and just after November 2012, when Zaken was at first rumored to be leaning toward a plea bargain with the state to testify against Olmert, but then changed course rejecting cooperation with the state.
The messages revealed by the Channel 10 report detail Zaken requesting Olmert to obtain job interviews for her son, Nadav, with Bank Discount CEO Yossi Becher and Harel Group controlling shareholder Yair Hamburger.
According to the messages, Olmert in short order obtained an interview for Nadav with Hamburger, who offered him a job, but Nadav resigned from the job on his first day of work.
Other messages detail Zaken requesting that Olmert help her get use of a villa in Europe to vacation in for some time through his European connections, though it appears he was less successful there, saying he had fewer current European connections, including failing to get a “villa offer” from Silvio Berlusconi.
Zaken also asked Olmert to assist with Nadav obtaining acceptance as a student at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, and though Olmert would have been willing to try, he told her his relations with IDC President Uriel Reichman were not good.
Responding to Zaken’s decision to abandon the plea bargain that he had worked hard to get for her, her lawyer Ofer Bartal texted her stating, “Unfortunately, Shula, we have nothing to argue for you.
We did everything we could to extract you from the matter, preserving your dignity as much as possible. Even this past Friday, they made most of the changes that you requested, and still you did not agree.”
Bartal warned her that failure to take the plea bargain would lead to her going to jail for an extended period of years, all to help Olmert, saying “this is just ugly.”
Zaken, during her testimony, ultimately concocted a series of stories to protect Olmert during the Holyland trial.
Olmert was convicted for bribery and sentenced to six years in prison despite her trying to help him at trial, though partially on the basis of incriminating statements she made to police before she had thought through a narrative to protect him.
Still, in early 2014, after the trial was over but before the verdict, Zaken reversed course one last time, cutting a plea bargain with the state to testify against Olmert in the current retrial of the Talansky Affair and in a possible new indictment for obstruction of justice – for which she obtained a significantly reduced jail sentence of only 11 months.