Shula Zaken: Olmert's driver brought me bribe money not to testify

The retrial of the Talansky Affair comes in light of explosive new allegedly damaging evidence revealed in audio tapes provided by Zaken.

November 3, 2014 10:02
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)

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert's powerful former bureau chief, Shula Zaken, delivered dramatic testimony in the retrial for the Talansky Affair on Monday morning. 

Zaken claimed that Olmert's driver brought her money which was a bribe to prevent her from  testifying in the Talansky Affair and the Rishon Tours Affair. She said that part of the amount was intended to pay for her legal fees and some of it was for her personally.  

Olmert's lawyer objected when Zaken made the statement, jumping up and saying that Zaken had not previously told this  information to police. "This is a new story!" he said.

The retrial began in September in the case which led to Olmert's resignation in 2008, but for which he was acquitted originally in July 2012.

The retrial came about in light of explosive new allegedly damaging evidence revealed in audio tapes provided by Zaken.  The court allowed the content of the tapes to be made public on Monday.

In one of the tapes, Olmert is heard telling Zaken not to testify, warning her that state prosecutor Uri Korb will kill her on the witness stand.

The Talansky affair involved Olmert allegedly receiving large amounts of cash in envelopes from New York businessman Morris Talansky between 1993-2005, not reporting them to the state comptroller, hiding them in his confidante Uri Messer’s secret safe and some of the money disappearing. 

In return, the indictment had alleged that Olmert assisted Talansky with various business transactions in 2004-2005 writing letters to Sheldon Adelson, Yitzchak Teshuva and others on his behalf.

The state has alleged that the tapes Zaken has provided show Olmert knew that money received from Talansky was illegally used for personal needs and that he illegally got Zaken not to testify in the original trial. 

In its July 2012 verdict, the Jerusalem District Court acquitted Olmert stating that while his actions were problematic, there was a doubt as to whether he believed his funds were being used for permitted political purposes or forbidden personal needs.

The court had also held that the letters Olmert sent for Talansky were mere introductory letters which did not prove any quid pro quo. 

The tapes provided by Zaken came to light as part of a plea deal that saw her receive a lenient 11-month prison sentence in the Holyland affair, prompted the justices to order the retrial. Olmert received a 6 year sentence in the Holyland trial which he is appealing.

The state will also get a second chance to try to put into evidence Zaken’s journal, which allegedly helps prove Olmert’s receiving funds from Talansky, with all of the above proving also that Olmert got funds from Talansky for personal use and not just as permitted political donations.

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