shula zaken 248 88 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )
Shula Zaken's trial on charges of fraud and breach of trust for her role in the Tax Authority affair officially got under way on Wednesday before Jerusalem Magistrate's Court Judge Haim Li-Ran.
Zaken is due to respond to the charges against her by November 24. In the meantime, the state and Zaken's lawyer, Micha Fetman, have to agree on how much of the investigative evidence regarding all eight defendants in the case is relevant to the Zaken case. The other seven have been indicted in Central District Court on harsher charges than the one facing Zaken.
"I'm a believer," Zaken told reporters in the courtroom before the trial began. "I believe in the court and only in the court. I believe the truth will come out and that only the court will do justice."
According to the indictment, Zaken, senior adviser to Olmert when he was acting finance minister in 2005 and 2006, used her close ties with her boss to advance the interests of her brother, Yoram Karshi.
Karshi wanted a senior official in the Tax Authority, Jacky Mazza, to replace outgoing director Eitan Rob after Rob announced that he was resigning. Karshi set up an appointment with Zaken for Mazza, who believed that she could persuade Olmert to choose him for the job.
Zaken did not dissuade him of this impression.
After the government approved Olmert's decision to appoint Mazza, Karshi wanted him to appoint Yigal Saar as deputy director in charge of administration and manpower.
At the same time, two other senior positions became vacant: deputy director for professional matters and deputy director for investigations. Mazza picked candidates for all three positions.
At first he told Karshi that Saar would get the administration and manpower job and Karshi informed Saar. Afterwards, however, Mazza changed his mind and decided to give the job to Shmuel Bobrov.
He needed Olmert to authorize his choices. However, when he asked Zaken to arrange a meeting with the acting finance minister, Zaken refused to schedule it and told him to discuss the appointments with her brother.
Only after Karshi agreed to Bobrov did Zaken arrange the meeting between Mazza and Olmert.
The state has also indicted Zaken in Jerusalem District Court, along with Olmert, for her alleged roles in the Talansky and Rishon Tours affairs.
Fetman told reporters after the brief hearing, "We believe with all our might that the court will do justice and we want the truth to come out as quickly as possible. We have no intention of drawing out the trial with procedural matters. Shula has suffered enough and for a long enough period of time."
Li-Ran said that he would begin hearing testimony in February or March of next year and would try to arrange two hearings a week.