Middle East

Israel's ex-PM Ehud Olmert faces new corruption charges

Ehud Olmert (2010)
Image caption The former Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, denies any wrongdoing

The former Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has been charged with taking bribes in a property scandal.

The allegations relate to Mr Olmert's time as Jerusalem mayor in the 1990s.

Mr Olmert, who resigned as prime minister in 2009, has already been charged in three unrelated corruption cases. He denies any wrongdoing.

The latest charges concern the construction of a luxury residential complex in Jerusalem called Holyland which is built on a prominent hilltop.

Prosecutors claim that millions of dollars changed hands illegally to facilitate a series of property deals.

Jerusalem's planning laws were altered to enable the complex to be built. The project's developers have also been charged in the case.

Haaretz newspaper describes the case as one of the largest corruption scandals in Israel's history.

The former prime minister denies any wrongdoing and has called the investigation a "witch hunt".

Mr Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 - 2003, then became a minister in the Israeli cabinet. He took over as prime minister in 2006 after Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke.

His three-year premiership was dogged by corruption allegations, and he eventually agreed to stand down.

Mr Olmert has pleaded not guilty in the separate proceedings against him, in which he is accused of taking cash for favours and double-billing for overseas trips.

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