Olmert’s lawyer may face charges for obstructing justice
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Olmert’s lawyer may face charges for obstructing justice

Defender of jailed ex-PM suspected of trying to interfere with a plea deal between the prosecution and state witness Shula Zaken

Attorney Navot Tel-Zur seen in the courtroom at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, February 9, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Attorney Navot Tel-Zur seen in the courtroom at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, February 9, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The State Prosecutor’s Office said Thursday it was considering an indictment against the lawyer who defended disgraced former prime minister Ehud Olmert, on charges of obstructing justice and tampering with a witness.

Olmert was one of eight former officials and businessmen convicted in March 2014 in the Holyland real estate corruption case, which officials have characterized as the largest in Israel’s history.

Olmert began serving his 19-month sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice in February.

His lawyer Navot Tel-Zur is suspected of obstructing the course of justice by attempting to torpedo a plea bargain between the prosecution and accomplice-turned-state witness Shula Zaken.

Shula Zaken, Ehud Olmert's bureau chief, leaves her home in Jerusalem on March 27, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Shula Zaken, Ehud Olmert’s ex-bureau chief, leaves her home in Jerusalem on March 27, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Zaken was Olmert’s assistant who assisted him in his illegal enterprise. Her testimony against him was instrumental to his conviction.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Justice, Tel-Zur was recorded by Zaken as he offered her money and legal assistance for dropping a deal she had struck with the prosecution, by which she would turn state witness in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Later, he allegedly offered to double the initial amount of money to cancel the deal.

In a comment he gave Thursday to Channel 2 News, Tel-Zur insisted all his actions in the matter were legal.

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert at the courtroom of the Magistrates Court in Jerusalem, February 2, 2016. (Gili Yohanan/POOL)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert at the courtroom of the Magistrates Court in Jerusalem, February 2, 2016. (Gili Yohanan/POOL)

“I’ve been an attorney for 30 years, and understand full well the boundary between what is allowed and what isn’t with regard to giving advice to clients,” Tel-Zur said.

“I disagree with the state’s position, by which I obstructed the course of justice, and many respected attorneys feel the same way. Shula Zaken came to me for advice and I advised her to the best of my understanding, according to all the details I had at the time.”

He claimed that “not only did I not try to dissuade Zaken from signing the plea deal or offer her anything for such a purpose, the opposite is the truth: I expressed my view that it was a reasonable deal for her, although it could be improved, in my opinion.”

The prosecution will decide on Tel-Zur’s case following a hearing.

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