Israel ex-PM indicted on bribery charges

[JURIST] Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert was indicted Thursday on bribery charges over the construction of a luxury apartment complex called the Holyland towers. As Jerusalem's mayor from 1993 to 2003, Olmert, along with other city officials, allegedly accepted millions of dollars in bribes [Reuters report] to assure the approval of plans for Holyland, which dominates a Jerusalem hilltop and has attracted unrelenting criticism for its architecture. Specifically the 83-page indictment states that the project's developers, who also have been charged in the case, received zoning and tax breaks in return for the bribes. Olmert, already on trial over corruption accusations, has denied the latest charges. He has already pleaded not guilty in separate proceedings over allegations he took cash for favors and double-billed charities for airfare to attend overseas fundraisers while serving as a cabinet minister and mayor before he became prime minister in 2006. Olmert resigned as Israel's leader in September 2008, saying he wanted to clear his name, staying on as caretaker prime minister until March 2009 when Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in. Olmert was officially named as a suspect [JURIST report] in the investigation in April 2010.

Olmert has been embroiled in accusations of scandal for much of his political career. He is already facing trial [JURIST report], the first of a former or current Israeli prime minister, for corruption and fraud charges that led to his resignation as prime minister. He is accused of illegally accepting cash contributions from an American businessman, double billing [JURIST reports] travel expenses to the state and charitable donors, and giving his former law partner access to state information. In April 2007, Olmert was investigated for improperly favoring his supporters [JURIST report] in distributing business grants during his time as trade minister. In January 2007, the Israeli Ministry of Justice announced plans to launch an investigation [JURIST report] into allegations that he promoted the interests of two business associates during the 2005 state sale of Bank Leumi [corporate website].

 

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