Olmert Acquittals Put Scare in Holyland Bribe Charges
Government prosecutors are running scared after a court acquitted former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on two severe indictments, and they are scratching their heads over whether to proceed with bribe charges against him in the alleged Holyland apartment complex scandal.
Deputy Attorney General Raz Nizri told Army Radio Wednesday that the state prosecutor would review the case of the acquittals of Olmert on charges of double billing, illegally accepting hundreds of thousands off dollars in cash from American Jew Morris Talansky and more.
The Jerusalem District Court Tuesday acquitted Olmert on all but one charge, which has been buried by the avalanche of astonishment over the acquittals.
However, the guilty verdict on a lesser crime of breach of public trust still is significant enough to make Olmert the first prime minister in Israel’s history to be convicted of a criminal charge. If he does not appeal, he could be sentenced to several months in jail but might be allowed to serve his time by doing community service.
He dismissed the conviction, which involved handing out political favors in an investment deal, as being a “procedural” issue.
The Holyland case involves Olmert’s allegedly accepting bribes when he was mayor of Jerusalem. The huge Holyland apartment complex, overlooking the Malcha Mall near the Jerusalem Zoo and the southern approach to the city from Hevron, was built on land that originally had been zoned for a hotel.
The office of the prosecutor will review Tuesday’s 743-page court decision before deciding whether to drop the Holyland Land case or proceed with the trial.