Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s five-year battle against three corruption charges comes to an end Tuesday morning, when he may become the first-ever Prime Minister convicted of criminal charges.
Three judges in Jerusalem District Court will deliver their decision on three indictments – double-billing, handing out favors to supporters and illegally accepting more than $150,000 in cash from American Jew Morris (Moshe) Talansky. Regardless of the outcome of the trial, he still faces trial for alleged bribery over building permits for the Holyland apartment complex when he was mayor of Jerusalem.
Olmert, now age 66, became prime minister after Ariel Sharon fell into a coma in late 2005 but was forced to quit four years later in the face of mounting incriminating evidence of wrongdoing.
Talansky testified concerning the cash he gave Olmert, and the other charges stem from alleged double-billing from a travel agency for his trips outside of Israel and his appointment of supporters to jobs, even though they were not qualified.
If found guilty, Olmert is likely to appeal his sentence, which could amount to five years in jail.
Whether he is convicted or acquitted, there is bound to be a boisterous response from an Israeli public increasingly upset with “trials in the media” and also fed up with court decisions that often seem to favor highly-placed people and liberals.