Former Israel PM convicted but escapes fraud charge

July 10th, 2012 - 8:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Ehud Olmert Tel Aviv, July 10 (IANS/RIA Novosti) A court in Jerusalem Tuesday cleared former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert of multiple fraud and corruption charges but found him guilty of breach of trust while in office.

Olmert said he respects the court for acquitting him of the central corruption charges, stressing that he was only found guilty of “procedural improprieties” and that he would absorb the lessons of the verdict.

“There are judges in Jerusalem,” Olmert said, quoting former prime minister Menachem Begin.

Olmert’s defence attorneys said they would not appeal the verdict if the prosecution does not.

Jerusalem District Attorney Eli Abarbanel admitted his office was surprised by the verdict.

“We didn’t except this ruling, but we can’t make light of the fact that he was convicted of a very serious offence. The court criticised Olmert and found him at fault for gross conflict of interest,” he was quoted by Ynetnews as saying.

Olmert resigned September 2008 amid multiple corruption allegations. The former prime minister has been the first top-level Israeli official to stand trial for such serious offences, which were allegedly committed while in office.

Among other things, Olmert was accused of receiving cash payments from US businessman Morris Talansky, using budget funds to pay for private trips, and lobbying interests for his business partner and friend Uri Messer.

Olmert was also charged with failing to disclose donations from US businessman Joe Almaliah to the state comptroller.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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