Ehud Olmert convicted in corruption case

Phoebe Greenwood – July 10, 2012

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has been cleared of two charges of corruption but found guilty of investment fraud.

The decision was announced on Tuesday morning by a panel of three Jerusalem judges, concluding a trial that has spanned three years.

The charges were filed after Olmert became prime minister in 2006, but stemmed from his time as mayor of Jerusalem and later as a cabinet minister and covered three separate allegations.

The charge of which he was found guilty centred on granting illegal favours to his longtime friend and business partner, Uri Messer, while serving as Israeli trade minister. It became known in Israel as the investment centre affair, since Messer had applied to the centre for state grants and other benefits.

Olmert was acquitted on charges in two other cases, known as the Rishon Tours affair and the Talansky affair, where he was accused of receiving double or triple reimbursements for trips and illegally receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

When the former PM took to the witness stand in May 2011, he told the court: “I am fighting for my life here.”

Olmert, who stepped down as prime minister in 2008, is reported to feel he has been wrongly persecuted and is keen to re-establish himself as a leading figure in his Kadima party.

He still faces trial in a bribery case concerning a Jerusalem property development project that is expected to take at least another year.


Comment – July 10, 2012

One might say that it’s the nature of the business but it does seem that those with criminal inclinations are attracted to power just as flies are drawn to excrement.
Apart from banking, power is also concentrated in the political arena, so it’s no surprise to find so many criminals are active in the realms of politics and banking.
This is true the world over but it is particularly evident in Israel. Where Olmert can now join former Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Katsav, who was convicted of rape, as another prominent Israeli politician and convicted criminal.
Of course, we are overlooking the fact that many Israeli politicians are probably guilty of far greater wrongdoing such as War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. Although it is uncertain whether they will ever be brought to trial for these crimes.   

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