Former Israeli PM Olmert Indicted on Corruption Charges

30 August 2009

Ehud Olmert, 07 Sep 2008
Ehud Olmert, 07 Sep 2008
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been indicted on corruption allegations that forced him to resign last year.  The charges include fraud, breach of trust and failure to report income.

Mr. Olmert is accused of accepting envelopes stuffed with cash from an American Jewish businessman to support a lavish style - including, stays at fancy hotel, expensive cigars and first-class travel.  He also allegedly double-billed Israeli and Jewish institutions for public trips abroad.

The indictment says he committed the crimes while serving as mayor of Jerusalem and as a cabinet minister, before being elected prime minister in 2006.

Michael Partem is the Vice-Chairman of the Movement for Quality Government in Israel.

"The law as it stands now in the State of Israel is to be commended because elected office is not a shelter for misdeeds," said Michael Partem.

Mr. Olmert is one of several senior Israeli officials who have recently been toppled by corruption scandals.  President Moshe Katsav resigned after being accused of rape, and a former finance minister was convicted of embezzlement.

The scandals have eroded public confidence in the government, but Michael Partem sees a silver lining - no one is above the law.

"Because of the public's need for transparency, because of the public's demand for a full accounting, these investigations, they are a good thing," he said.

Mr. Olmert denies any wrongdoing.  He is the first Israeli prime minister to be indicted on criminal charges.