Thundering ruling shakes country, Judge also convicts former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, former Bank Hapoalim Chairman Dan Dankner, Olmert’s former chief-of-staff Shula Zaken and 10 out of 13 individual defendants.
Completing nearly two years of what may be looked back on as the trial of the century, the Tel Aviv District Court on Monday convicted former prime minister Ehud Olmert on charges of bribery.
With a thundering ruling that will shake the country, Judge David Rozen also convicted former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, former Bank Hapoalim Chairman Dan Dankner, Olmert’s former chief-of-staff Shula Zaken and, in total, 10 out of 13 individual defendants (3 defendants are corporations.)
Rozen said that Zaken even got convicted in the prior Jerusalem corruption trial rather than testify against Olmert.On the NIS 500,000 in bribes given to Yossi Olmert, Ehud’s brother, the court completely rejected Ehud’s story that he did not know that Duchner gave the money to Yossi. The court added that there was no reason for Duchner to give Yossi money except at Ehud’s request since they did not know each other.
Rozen said that Duchner was always careful to make sure sponsors like Olmert knew he had given bribes to secure their help with the Holyland project.
Olmert was convicted of some of the most serious bribery charges including large sums. Absent Rozen being very sympathetic since Olmert is a former prime minister (and Olmert did get this sympathy at his Jerusalem trial) he could be looking at serious jail time. Sentencing arguments in the case were scheduled to begin on April 28.
The judge completely rejected Zaken’s story that money she got from Duchner was not bribes, but part of a romance between them.
Rozen called Zaken a “central mover” in the bribery scheme, telling the state that he is not convinced he wants to accept an easy sentence for plea bargain. He added that in light of his conviction of Olmert already, it is unclear that her evidence is a “revolution.”
Zaken agreed to a plea deal with the state which involves her agreeing to serve 11 months in jail and paying NIS 100,000, the state dropping its appeal to the Supreme Court against her acquittals on major charges (she was convicted on two minor counts) in the Jerusalem corruption trial and other provisions.
Though the state originally rejected Zaken’s new evidence as insufficient, at the start of last week, Zaken produced to the state a series of cassette tapes which the state said provide a “serious suspicion” of obstruction of justice and witness tampering against Olmert.
By moving forward with the verdict, the plea bargain reportedly could require Zaken to cooperate with the state in filing a new indictment against Olmert for the obstruction of justice charges – though the state may call it a day having gotten a conviction.