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Israel Prosecutor Recommends Criminal Indictment for Sharon - 2004-03-28

An Israeli state prosecutor has officially recommended filing criminal corruption charges against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The Israeli Justice Ministry said state prosecutor Ednal Arbel submitted a draft indictment to the attorney general with the recommendation to go forward with charges. Attorney General Meni Mazuz is expected to decide the matter in the coming weeks.

The bribery case focuses on allegations that hundreds of thousands of dollars were paid to Mr. Sharon's son, Gilad, in 1991 for then-Foreign Minster Ariel Sharon's help in getting Israeli land re-zoned for a Greek tourism project. Mr. Sharon has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Sunday's indictment recommendation prompted immediate opposition calls for Mr. Sharon to resign. But analysts say it is highly unlikely Mr. Sharon would leave office before an indictment decision is made public.

The legal battle looms two weeks before Mr. Sharon visits Washington to seek President Bush's endorsement for a plan to evacuate Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.