Shula Zaken, the former aide to ex-prime minister Ehud Olmert whose testimony in the Holyland case helped land her former boss in jail, will begin her own prison sentence Tuesday.
The Tel Aviv District Court agreed to a plea bargain with Zaken in May, for which the 57-year-old offered testimony and tapes in her possession in exchange for a reduced sentence, Army Radio reported.
According to the court’s verdict, Zaken was heavily involved in the series of graft scandals. Judge David Rozen called her “a serious criminal” and a “crime generator” but ultimately reduced what could have been at least a five-year sentence to 11 months because the prosecution was convinced that her testimony, and the information on the tapes — which dealt with Olmert’s involvement in the Holyland, Rishon Tours and Morris Talansky affairs — could be used to send Olmert to prison “for at least nine years.”
“She is guilty of serious crimes, did everything for the man she admired, helped Olmert as his confidante and right-hand woman. She took care of herself and took thousands of shekels in bribes as a participant in criminal activities,” Rozen said.
Zaken will be processed at Neve Tizra Women’s Prison midday Tuesday.
She wrote on her Facebook page Monday: “After eight years of extensive legal ordeals, I am taking on the road with me the support, love, trust and sensitivity you have shown me.”
Zaken admitted to the Tel Aviv District Court that she had transferred cash to Olmert from businessman Shmuel Dachner, who turned state’s witness and broke open the Holyland case before his death in 2013.
She also said she helped set up a meeting between Dachner and Olmert’s brother Yossi Olmert, according to an account of the hearing in the Haaretz daily.
Zaken’s lawyer told Rozen that she had recorded Olmert because her family was curious about what he was calling about and she wanted to “get them off her back.”
While being questioned by Rozen, Zaken burst into tears, telling him that “Olmert used me, I lied for him.”
Olmert was sentenced to six years in prison, a two-year suspended term, and a fine of NIS 1 million ($289,000) for his involvement in the Holyland graft scandal. Police and prosecutors have been pursuing additional charges that accuse him of attempting to interfere in the state’s case against him by tampering with witnesses. The state prosecutor, based on evidence provided by Zaken, has also reopened investigations into the Rishon Tours and Talansky affairs, two cases in which Olmert was cleared two years ago.
Zaken had stood by Olmert throughout the Rishon Tours and Holyland affairs, but reportedly turned against him after the former prime minister’s attorney accused her of lying during the Holyland proceedings. Zaken was also convicted in the Rishon Tours case in which Olmert was acquitted.
The Holyland affair has been regarded as one of the worst corruption scandals in the country’s history. At the center of the case was the Holyland housing development, a hulking hilltop project that Jerusalem residents long suspected was tainted by corruption.
Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report.