Middle East

Israel's ex-PM Ehud Olmert convicted of bribery

Ehud Olmert (file photo) Image copyright AP
Image caption Olmert had been under investigation for several years

Israel's former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who resigned from office in 2008 amid a corruption inquiry, has been found guilty in a bribery trial.

Olmert was convicted in what is known as the "Holyland affair" in which bribes were paid to speed up a luxury property development in Jerusalem.

He has already been cleared in several other corruption trials.

The 68-year-old former Kadima party leader had denied wrongdoing and had hinted at a political comeback.

The offences happened when Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem and subsequently a government minister.

Delivering the verdict in Tel Aviv on Monday, Judge David Rozen said the case "exposed governance that grew more corrupt and rotten over the years, with bribes paid to public officials," the Associated Press news agency reported.

Olmert succeeded Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister after the latter had a stroke in January 2006. He was mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003.

In 2012 Olmert was cleared of two major corruption charges but convicted of illegally granting favours to a business friend during his time as trade and industry minister under Mr Sharon.

He was fined $19,000 and given a one-year suspended jail sentence.

The Holyland affair saw millions of dollars in bribes change hands in one of the biggest corruption scandals in Israel's history.

As prime minister, Olmert pursued peace talks with the Palestinians and made an extensive offer of land-for-peace in 2008. He also oversaw the 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon but subsequently struggled with low approval ratings.

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