The judge who sentenced former prime minister Ehud Olmert to six years in prison for corruption was summoned by the president of the Supreme Court to explain in person why he discussed the case during a lawyers’ conference last week.
Supreme Court head Asher Grunis spoke to Judge David Rozen on Sunday to ask why the judge had broken protocol in discussing the trial outside of the courtroom, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported. Justice Devora Berliner, who is president of the Tel Aviv District Court and Rozen’s direct supervisor, was also present at the meeting.
Rozen, who sentenced Olmert last month, allegedly breached court etiquette during a conference organized by the Attorneys Bureau that was held in the southern resort city of Eilat last week.
Olmert was sentenced to prison for accepting bribes in the so-called Holyland real estate scandal during his term as mayor of the capital. Other Jerusalem city officials, including former mayor Uri Lupolianksi, as well as businessmen, were convicted in the case.
Both Rozen and Grunis attended the conference. All the judges who took part in the event were given clear guidelines to stick to the topic of their panels, to speak only in general terms, and to not discuss any cases in particular.
However, Rozen did not shy away from questions about the Olmert trial and spoke out in defense of his harshly worded ruling.
“Everything that I had to say I wrote in the ruling,” he said. “I am content with every word that I wrote. I don’t take the criticism to heart; it is okay to criticize.”
Rozen also went into details of the considerations involved in allowing Olmert’s former bureau chief, Shula Zaken, to testify against him.
Zaken took a late deal to turn state’s witness and testify against Olmert in return for a reduced sentence. After the trial had already closed, but before the sentencing, Zaken produced recordings of Olmert trying to convince her not to testify against him. Those have led to a new investigation of Olmert on charges of obstruction of justice.
As a result of her testimony, Zaken, who was also indicted in the Holyland trial, received a relatively light sentence of 11 months in prison.