Zaken hospitalized on eve of Holyland cross-examination, court delays hearing

Top aid to former prime minister Ehud Olmert hospitalized after tense testimony.

Olmert, Zaken 370 (photo credit: Pool / Olivia Fitosi)
Olmert, Zaken 370
(photo credit: Pool / Olivia Fitosi)
Shula Zaken, a former top aide to ex-prime minister Ehud Olmert, was hospitalized on Wednesday night, on the eve of her cross-examination in the Holyland case.
Following her hospitalization, the court postponed Thursday’s proceedings.
The drama built on Tuesday’s tension in which Zaken’s lawyer, Ofer Bartal, suddenly requested a “time-out” in her testimony in the Tel Aviv District Court after she apparently contradicted a pre-agreed upon narrative they had discussed and possibly admitted to aspects of the bribery crimes for which she is charged.
Zaken is charged with receiving bribes from main state witness Shmuel Duchner, personally, as well as by request of Olmert in exchange for Olmert smoothing over legal and zoning obstacles for the Holyland real estate project in south Jerusalem. Olmert is charged with receiving NIS 1.5 million in bribes from Duchner, mostly as mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 1999, but also afterward as a cabinet minister.
Zaken was hospitalized after testifying in a tense hearing about her romantic relationship with Duchner, who himself was hospitalized throughout earlier stages of the trial and who died mid-trial in March. Zaken’s cross-examination could be crucial for her and Olmert’s fate in the case.