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Israeli Court Convicts Olmert in Bribery Case

  • Scott Bobb

FILE - Former Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

FILE - Former Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

A court in Israel has convicted former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of bribery. It is the first such conviction of a head of government in Israeli history.

The Tel Aviv court announced its decision Monday as part of a wide-ranging probe of corruption while Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem. He could face up to 10 years in prison.

Olmert's lawyer, Roi Blecher, said he intends to appeal. "It's not an easy day for us," he said.

There were four charges and Olmert was exonerated on two of them.

The charges follow a broad investigation into corruption in the construction of the Holyland housing project. Prosecutors said millions of dollars changed hands illegally to promote the controversial venture, which included zoning law changes and tax breaks for its developers.

A total of 13 officials and businessmen were charged in the case. Several are already serving prison sentences.

It was the latest of the former leader's legal problems.

In 2012, another court convicted him of breaching the public trust by helping a former colleague win government contracts while Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem and subsequently Israel's trade and industry minister. He was acquitted on other, more serious charges but received a suspended one-year sentence and a fine.

Olmert was elected prime minister in 2006. He was forced to resign three years later because of scandals prompted by these and other corruption allegations.