Former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert faces jail after graft conviction | South China Morning Post
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Former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert faces jail after graft conviction

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 8:47pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 April, 2014, 6:48pm

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert was yesterday convicted of corruption linked to a major property development in Jerusalem.

It is the first time a former Israeli premier has been convicted of bribery in what has been called one of the worst corruption scandals in the country's history. Sentencing will take place later, but legal experts say such a conviction will almost certainly entail time in prison for Olmert.

Olmert was convicted of two counts of receiving bribes linked to construction of Jerusalem's massive Holyland residential complex dating from when he was the city's mayor.

"We're talking about corrupt and filthy practices," Judge David Rosen said while reading out the verdict.

He also spoke of a "corrupt political system which has decayed over the years... and in which hundreds of thousands of shekels were transferred to elected officials".

Rosen also said the former premier had lied to the court in a bid to "blacken the name" of the state's witness.

Olmert sat expressionless throughout the verdict.

In 2010, Olmert was named the key suspect in the so-called Holyland affair on suspicion that he received US$430,000 in bribes, although the prosecution later reduced the sum by about half.

He was mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003, after which he served as a cabinet minister, holding the trade and industry portfolio as well as several others, before becoming premier in 2006.

Olmert led the centre-right Kadima party into government, but resigned from the premiership in September 2008 after police recommended he be indicted in several graft cases.

In July 2012, a Jerusalem court found Olmert guilty of breach of trust in a closely watched corruption case, but cleared him of two more serious charges related to the alleged receipt of cash-stuffed envelopes and multiple billing for trips abroad.

He was fined US$19,000 and given a suspended jail sentence for graft.

The conviction related to favours that Olmert granted a former colleague while serving as the trade and industry minister.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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