Former Israel PM Olmert Found Guilty of Bribery


JERUSALEM, Israel -- For the first time ever a former Israeli prime minister was convicted on criminal charges Monday, though the charges stem from different political offices.

The Tel Aviv district court found former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert guilty of bribery in the Holyland Foundation trial.

In September 2008, Olmert resigned to face charges of fraud, corruption, and breach of trust while serving as mayor of Jerusalem and later as minister of Infrastructure, Trade and Industry in former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government.

Olmert, who was acquitted of similar charges in several other cases, is the first prime minister to be convicted of bribery. From time to time, he spoke of returning to politics when he put the legalities behind him.

Olmert's former bureau chief, Shula Zaken, accepted a plea bargain in exchange for testifying against him, which includes an 11-month prison term and a 100,000 shekel fine. The court agreed to drop money laundering charges against her.

Zaken, who worked for Olmert some 30 years, initially refused to testify against her former boss and was found guilty of corruption charges in an earlier trial.

This time, she decided to release audio recordings as evidence of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

The court will announce the verdicts on Monday, though Zaken has agreed to provide additional testimony against her former boss.

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