Monday, March 31, 2014

Former Israel PM Ehud Olmert Convicted of Bribery Having Rope-a-Doped Other Scandals For Years

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert was convicted of bribery committed while he was mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003, Israel Radio reported.

Those were the years of the second intifada -- which took 1,000 Israeli lives.

The case involved construction of a grandiose housing development known as Holyland. It is an eyesore of a complex sitting above Begin Highway in the southern section of the city.

In 2010, businessman Shmuel Dachner, turned state's witness and implicated Olmert in the scandal. Dachner died in 2013 after a long illness.

Olmert denigrated Dachner -- but to no avail. 

In his ruling, Tel Aviv District Court Judge David Rosen -- there are no jury trials in Israel -- said Olmert lied to the court. 

Olmert also paid the legal expenses of his trusty former office manager who had – until last week – refused to testify against him.  

The judge said the aide, Shula Zaken, would nevertheless have to pay the price of her refusal to testify. She would not get points for changing her mind when it was too late.

Among those convicted in the scandal was Uri Lupolianski, who succeeded Olmert as Jerusalem mayor.

This actually saddens me. Lupolianski was the city's first ultra-Orthodox mayor. His family founded Yad Sarah which is a social service network that, among other things, provides free medical equipment to those in need.

Olmert was separately convicted in 2012 of breach of trust in another case involving financial irregularities while he was a cabinet minister. He was fined and handed a suspended sentence.

But he dodged conviction on several other cases, in large measure I'm assuming, because Shula Zaken kept "sthum."

Olmert became premier after Ariel Sharon was felled by a stroke. Elected in his own right he served from 2006 to 2009 including during the mismanaged Second Lebanon War against Hezbollah, and Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in Gaza.

It was under Olmert that Gilad Shalit was taken prisoner in 2006. Neither Olmert nor his defense minister Ehud Barak were able to locate Shalit who was being held within driving distance of the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.

Instead they both made bombastic threats against Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Olmert has been making speeches since leaving office. He's criticized Netanyahu for not seducing Mahmud Abbas into making peace with Israel -- even though he couldn't either.

Rather than siding with Israel while he was abroad and with the Israeli government against foreign governments -- ex-PM Olmert has waged a campaign against Netanyahu from the left.

Given Olmert's reputation for integrity, former chief of staff Dan Halutz's reputation for single-minded focus on his work, and ex-Mossad director Meir Dagan reputation for keeping his mouth shut, I was not surprised that the three of them recently went into business together. 

A sentencing hearing is set for April 28 in the Holyland case.

Olmert faces a possible prison term. He would be the first ex-prime minister to be sent to prison in Israel's history. Former president Moshe Katsav is currently serving a sentence for rape.

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