Former prime minister Olmert and his ex-bureau chief Shula Zaken.
(photo credit: REUTERS,MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Unconfirmed reports flooded the media on Thursday that Shula Zaken and the state, after several false starts, reached a plea bargain in which she would testify against Ehud Olmert in exchange for serving only 11 months in prison.
The Jerusalem Post has learned that the entire picture is likely to clear within a matter of hours.
Earlier Thursday, many of the same media outlets were reporting that the talks had fallen apart again.
Late Wednesday night the former prime minister had lashed out at the police and the prosecution for allegedly trying to unduly influence Monday's Holyland trial verdict by manufacturing allegations of Zaken giving them new "smoking gun" evidence against him.
According to widespread unconfirmed reports late Wednesday night, Zaken recently provided the police with new evidence against Olmert.
The Justice Ministry has refused to confirm or deny all reports, other than that there had been renewed contacts recently with Zaken.
The Holyland trial involves Olmert, Zaken and 14 other defendants accused of smoothing over various legal and zoning obstacles for the Holyland real estate project in south Jerusalem in exchange for bribes in one of the worst fraud schemes in the country's history.
If Olmert is found innocent, he will have dodged over five years of legal bullets and could be on his way to returning to power. If he is found guilty, his career would likely be over and he could even face jail time.
Thursday's latest reports fueled speculation that the prosecution might seek to postpone the verdict in order to put Zaken back on the stand against Olmert.
An alternative scenario being speculated on would have the verdict go forward Monday, but the prosecution would file a separate and new indictment against Olmert for allegedly seeking to unduly influence a witness, Zaken, not to provide evidence.
Olmert's public relations team blasted Wednesday night's reports, stating the "continued slanderous public relations efforts and the line of unending leaks from the police and the prosecution" raise the "serious suspicion of tampering the legal process" before the court.
The statement continued that the "leaks have only one purpose: to unduly influence the legal process on the eve of the verdict set for Monday" in order to try to manufacture a smoking gun.
On Monday the High Court of Justice rejected a petition seeking to compel the state to change its recent decision not to cut a deal with Zaken, which presumably removed the last variable in the case and paved the way for Monday's verdict.
One of the factors the state had cited in rejecting a plea bargain with Zaken was the absence of her having any hard evidence to confirm her allegations against Olmert.
If any of the above speculation is true and a deal is cut or new charges are brought, the new evidence could be that missing piece.
Still any new testimony or delaying of the verdict would need the court to approve a highly irregular reopening of the case, which the court would do only in the most extraordinary circumstances.
So whether there is new "smoking gun" evidence or not, the verdict is so soon and the state has already so publicly rejected Zaken, that short of it really being a "smoking gun," all of the excitement may go nowhere and Monday's verdict may go forward as planned.
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