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Top aide testifies against ex-Israeli PM Olmert

AP , Monday 3 Nov 2014
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Photo: Reuters)
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A longtime aide to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert testified against her former boss Monday, saying he "knew everything" about the corruption that was taking place in his office.

Shula Zaken, Olmert's most loyal confidante for 30 years, took the stand at Jerusalem's District Court and detailed how Olmert allegedly kept cash collected from contributors for the personal use of him and his family. The highlight of the hearing was the playing of recordings Zaken made of conversations with Olmert, in which he details money transactions and pleads with her not to take the stand against him.

Olmert was forced to resign as prime minister in 2009 amid a flurry of corruption allegations.

Zaken initially kept quiet and as a result Olmert was cleared of the most serious charges brought against him in 2012, including accepting cash-stuffed envelopes from an American supporter and double billing Jewish organizations to cover overseas travel. Zaken was convicted in the double billing case and the court ruled that Olmert was not aware of Zaken's actions and therefore was not responsible.

The two have since had a falling out, with Zaken coming forward with new information shortly before both of them were convicted earlier this year in a separate real estate bribery case.

Olmert was convicted in March in a wide-ranging case that accused him of accepting bribes to promote a controversial real-estate project in Jerusalem. He was charged for acts while he was mayor of Jerusalem and national trade minister, years before he became prime minister.

He was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison in May, making him the first Israeli prime minister to be sentenced to prison time since the establishment of the state in 1948.

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