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Israeli Police Question Olmert for 4th Time in Corruption Probe


Israeli police have questioned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for a fourth time in a corruption scandal. Robert Berger reports from the VOA bureau in Jerusalem.

Investigators presented documents to Mr. Olmert allegedly showing that as a public official, he double and triple-billed institutions and charities for trips abroad and pocketed the difference.

An American Jewish businessman has also testified that he gave Mr. Olmert envelopes stuffed with cash to support a lavish lifestyle, including fancy hotels and cigars and first-class airfare.

Police say these things took place when Mr. Olmert was a Cabinet minister and mayor of Jerusalem.

The prime minister denies any wrongdoing. But when his own Kadima party decided on primaries to replace him in September, he succumbed to the pressure and announced that he would resign after the vote.

Jerusalem Post editor David Horowitz says Mr. Olmert's fall from power began when an official inquiry described his handling of the Lebanon War two years ago as a failure.

"I don't think the Israeli public is saying, 'Oh, we know that you're guilty.' I think the Israeli public didn't trust him after the war and felt that he couldn't do the job properly, because he was facing so many legal scandals," said Horowitz.

"The public has been pressuring him for awhile to step down, from all the corruption allegations, and I think he's made the right choice and the right choice for the country by stepping down," said a Jerusalem resident.

Israeli media say police hope to wind up the investigation in a month and will recommend an indictment against the prime minister.

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