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Israel Attorney General to prosecute outgoing PM Olmert on corruption charges

[JURIST] Israeli Attorney General Meni Mazuz [official profile] informed outgoing Prime Minister Ehmud Olmert [official profile; JURIST news archive] Sunday that he intends to file an indictment against him in the District Court of Jerusalem for receiving illicit funds. Charges stemming from Olmert's alleged acceptance of cash contributions from Jewish-American businessman Morris Talansky [JURIST report] could possibly include fraud, violation of public confidence, and the receipt of illicit perquisites. Should an indictment be filed [AP report], it would be based on Talansky’s statements obtained during a series of pre-trial depositions and cross-examinations conducted in May and July 2008, in which Talansky stated that Olmert had asked him for approximately $150,000 [Ha'aretz report] over a fifteen-year period. If proven, receipt of the funds would constitute abuse of Olmert's public position in violation of the 1973 Party Financing Law [text]. Olmert, who has denied the allegations against him, will be given a final pre-trial hearing to dissuade Mazuz from filing charges. Although Talansky denies receiving any favors in return for his contributions, may yet face charges [NYT report] of his own in a US court.

In addition to the currently pending indictment, the Israel Ministry of Justice is also considering filing indictments for Olmert’s other alleged corruption offense, including the double billing [JURIST report] of the state and charitable donors for travel expenses in 2002-2006. The preliminary testimony obtained from Talansky in May 2008 led to Olmert’s resignation from his post as PM last September. Olmert remains acting PM until recently-elected successor Benjamin Netanyahu formally takes office.

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