Did Olmert's former aide Shula Zaken receive numerous envelopes of cash, or just one?
By DAN IZENBERG
In his final day of pre-trial testimony on Monday, prosecution witness Morris Talansky appeared to confuse matters a little more than he already has, when he was confronted with contradictory testimony he gave regarding the role played by Shula Zaken, former prime minister Ehud Olmert's close aide, in the money transfers from Talansky to Olmert.
Although much of the spotlight in the Talansky affair has focused on whether Olmert was guilty of illegal actions, Zaken is also a suspect in the case. Monday's hearing was largely devoted to her role in the affair.
In his testimony to police investigators in April and May of 2008, and under questioning by State Attorney Moshe Lador during the first day of pre-trial testimony on May 27, Talansky repeatedly said he had frequently delivered envelopes containing cash for Olmert to Zaken.
However, during questioning on Monday by Zaken's lawyer, Micha Fetman, Talansky confirmed that under cross-examination in the second round of the pre-trial testimony last July, he had said he delivered all the envelopes directly to Olmert except for one containing $72,500, which he had given to Zaken because Olmert was not in the office. It was the only sum of money brought by the New York businessman that she had recorded in her diary.
Fetman tried to persuade Talansky that he had actually given the $72,500 directly to Olmert and that the police had put the idea in his head that he had given the money to Zaken. Talansky replied that he was sure he had given that cash to Zaken.
However, the fact that Talansky continued to insist that aside from the $72,500, he had given all the other envelopes stuffed with money directly to Olmert troubled Lador, because it threatened the state's case against Zaken. He read several excerpts from Talansky's testimony to detectives and the court, in which the witness said he had given envelopes to Zaken on several occasions and that Zaken had frequently called him to tell him how much money Olmert wanted.
Reading from Talansky's testimony, Lador quoted him as saying, "I gave her money several times. She asked for it a few times. [Once], Shula asked me to pay for Olmert's flight and hotel. The sum was $25,000. I also gave money directly to Olmert. From 2003 on, I perhaps gave money directly to Olmert three times when he was in New York, and several times to Shula."
In trying to explain the apparent contradiction, Talansky said he did not think she knew what was in the envelopes he left with her for Olmert. "I don't believe she knew there was money. Maybe she did, maybe she didn't. How should I know what was in her head? But Olmert was the one who always instigated it."
Monday marked the end of Talansky's testimony. On August 13, Olmert's lawyers will appear before State Attorney Menahem Mazuz for the first of four days of hearings which will determine whether Olmert stands trial or the case is closed. The other hearing sessions are scheduled for August 25-27.
var cont = `Stay Informed
As the war against Hamas unfolds, our unwavering newsroom remains committed to covering Israel's most profound crisis.
Sign up for our newsletter to get real-time news and in-depth analysis from our top reporters.