Former Israeli prime minister Olmert guilty of accepting bribes

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has been found guilty of accepting bribes in a retrial of corruption charges, the latest chapter in the downfall of a man who only years earlier hoped to lead the country to a historic peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Olmert’s lawyers said they would probably appeal over the ruling by the Jerusalem District Court. He will be sentenced at a later date.

Olmert was acquitted in 2012 of a series of charges that included accepting cash-stuffed envelopes containing hundreds of thousands of dollars from US businessman Morris Talansky before Olmert became prime minister. The verdict was seen as a major victory for Olmert.

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But Olmert’s former office manager and confidant Shula Zaken later turned state’s witness, offering tape recordings of conversations with Olmert about illicitly receiving cash, leading to a retrial.

A panel of judges found that Olmert had accepted Talansky’s money as a personal bribe without reporting it, calling it a “serious conflict of interest”. The judges ruled that an Olmert aide kept the money hidden in a safe.

Olmert’s lawyer, Eyal Rozovsky, said Olmert’s legal team was “very disappointed from the ruling” and said his lawyers would review it and probably appeal.

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