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Zaken Sentencing

Shula Zaken Photo: Tomer Appelbaum
Shula Zaken Photo: Tomer Appelbaum
 
 

Court okays plea bargain for Shula Zaken, Olmert's bureau chief who turned on her boss

Judge brands Zaken a criminal who deserves five years in jail, but ultimately abides by prosecution deal that will see her serve 11 months for role in Holyland bribery case.

Naama Cohen-Friedman
Published: 05.15.14, 10:29 / Israel News

Shula Zaken, Ehud Olmert's former bureau chief who turned against him to reduce her own punishment in a corruption case, was given an 11-month jail sentence as part of a plea bargain approved Thursday by a Tel Aviv court judge.

 

 

Zaken had been convicted for her role in the "Holyland" land development case, which found that both she and then-Jerusalem mayor Olmert had accepted bribes from property developers to overlook building codes and other restrictions for specific projects.

 

In an unprecedented ruling that makes him the first Israeli former prime minister to receive jail time, Olmert was sentenced Tuesday to six years in prison by Judge David Rozen, who also presided over Zaken's hearing Thursday. 

 

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During the hearing, Rozen branded Zaken a criminal who deserved to go to jail for at least five years.

 

"It is hard for me to hide my belief that she deserves to go to jail for many years, no less than five," said Rozen. "The considerations of the prosecution do not seem to me to be critical. With that, we must also yield to the Supreme Court, which demands that we honor plea bargains."

 

Rozen also balanced Zaken's behavior over decades with the need for her plea bargain. "She is an instigator of criminal activity. Why should we pay her such a price? What is she actually giving us? There's no cleaning house. The plea bargain doesn’t stop me from deciding her punishment."

   

 

At the hearing, Zaken presented eight tape recordings that contained hours of conversations between herself and Olmert, in order to show her willingness to cooperate with the courts. She told the court said that she hadn't originally presented the tapes because she didn't think investigators would find any relevant information in the conversations on them.

  

Her deal was made just prior to Olmert's conviction, shocking the former prime minister, who had kept Zaken by his side as a loyal colleague for over 30 years.

 

 

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