Former Israeli PM Olmert to be indicted on bribery charges

10:08, March 15, 2011      

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Israel's state attorney on Monday announced that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be indicted in the "Holyland" corruption affair on charges of bribery.

Aside from Olmert, 17 other suspects will be indicted for their alleged involvement in the scheme. Some of the prominent names include former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski and Olmert's former personal assistant and confidant Shula Zaken.

Police investigators submitted their findings in August 2010 and recommended that Olmert and others be put on trial.

A statement issued Monday by the Justice Ministry said that State Attorney Moshe Lador has opined that bribery charges should be filed against Olmert, Lupolianski and Zaken. A host of former senior officials at the Jerusalem municipality and the former director of the Israel Lands Authority are also expected to be charged with accepting bribes.

The suspects were informed of the intention to indict them, pending a hearing, the statement said.

Olmert, 65, resigned the premiership in 2008 amid a series of corruption probes against him. One of them involves Holyland, an upscale residential project in Jerusalem. Earlier in the decade, as mayor of Jerusalem, Olmert is claimed to have accepted bribes totaling hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars from the project's developers.

In exchange, Olmert is said to disregard complaints by local residents and green organizations that the project encroached on the city's meager natural forestry. Instead, police investigators said, he played a key role in helping push the project through local building committees, hushed its opposition and awarded financial benefits to the developers.

Olmert's media consultant, Amir Dan, responded to Monday's announcement, saying that the former premier "has clearly stated that he never accepted bribes, neither directly nor indirectly, and he stands behind this statement today."

"From the onset we didn't expect the State Attorney to decide differently, after police and the State Attorney ran a media circus that began long before Olmert was asked a single question," Dan said in a statement.

Source: Xinhua
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