Olmert and Zaken (archives)
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
Former PM arrives at National Fraud Unit
Photo: Dudu Azoulay

Olmert meets ex-bureau chief despite restrictions

Former prime minister exchanges words with Shula Zaken during wedding held only several hours after his first round of questioning. Police to examine whether incident violates his commitment not to contact other suspects in Holyland affair

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met Tuesday night with his former bureau chief, Shula Zaken, and former Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yehoshua Polak. All three have been questioned in the Holyland corruption affair, and the meeting between them – which was held during the wedding of former Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri's daughter – violates police orders.


Following the meeting, the police plan to look into the restrictions imposed on Olmert and reevaluate the situation.


The former prime minister, who was questioned for about eight hours on Tuesday, was ordered not to contact any of the other suspects in the affair. But several hours after his interrogation, he met two of the other suspects at the wedding and exchanged words with them. A documentation of these meetings was aired Tuesday night on Channel 2 TV.


"Olmert is closely maintaining the restrictions he undertook following the interrogation, and these limitations do not prevent him from greeting people when he runs into them," an aide to the former premier said in response.


The police are examining the footage from the wedding, but might eventually decide not to toughen Olmert's release conditions. The meetings appear to violate the release conditions, all the more so in the case of Zaken, who committed to a judge that she would not contact any of the other suspects after being released from detention.


The investigators will look into the matter on Wednesday and make a decision on their next move. "This only shows how tough and complicated this investigation is," said a law enforcement official. "Not much is needed to obstruct this case. It's enough that he says a word to someone about his interrogation."


Surprises ahead?

On Tuesday morning, Olmert arrived for a first questioning session at the National Fraud Investigation Unit in Lod and provided his investigators with an initial version of his involvement in Holyland and other real estate projects during his tenures as Jerusalem mayor and industry, trade and labor minister. He is expected to be questioned once again on Sunday.


The investigators also asked Olmert about his relations with businessman Danny Dankner, entrepreneur Hilel Cherny and the rest of the suspects in the affair. He was also asked about his acquaintanceship with the state witness, but was not confronted with him yet.


The former prime minister answered all the questions and repeated his claim that he did not receive a bribe "from anyone". As for his involvement in advancing the real estate projects, Olmert said that it was not personal and that he had no other considerations. He denied the police's claims that his associates, Shula Zaken and Attorney Uri Messer, received the bribes and transferred them to him in different ways.


The former prime minister had over a month to prepare for the first questioning session, but police officials say the investigators still had several surprises for him.


According to one of the investigators, who held simulations and estimated Olmert's responses ahead of the interrogation, "It's true that Olmert has an answer to everything, but there are facts one cannot argue with, like the transfer of money and checks and the confiscated documents."


פרסום ראשון: 05.26.10, 08:21
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