Middle East

Olmert convicted by Israeli court

Ehud Olmert (file photo)
Image caption Olmert resigned after coming under pressure over the corruption allegations

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been cleared of two major corruption charges but convicted on a third, lesser count.

Olmert was found guilty of illegally granting favours to a business friend during his time as a minister.

"There was no corruption. There was no taking of money. There was no use of money. There were no cash envelopes," he said after the trial.

Olmert's three years in office were overshadowed by corruption scandals.

He was cleared of the main corruption charges of bribery and falsely billing for foreign fundraising trips.

Olmert still faces trial for his involvement in a further corruption scandal over property development in Jerusalem, known as the Holyland Affair, when he was mayor of the city. He denies wrongdoing.

He was the first Israeli prime minister to face criminal charges that carry the threat of imprisonment, and will be sentenced at a later date.

The BBC's Kevin Connolly in Jerusalem says Olmert was acquitted on what most Israelis would regard as the more serious charges.

The first, that he corruptly accepted envelopes of cash from a wealthy businessman which he kept in a private slush fund; and the second, that he made money for himself by charging different charities the price of the same travelling expenses when he went overseas for them.

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

In 2008, Olmert resigned as corruption allegations began to mount, but stayed on as prime minister until leadership elections were held in February 2009.

He has said that his efforts to negotiate with Palestinians at the time were close to agreement and were heavily compromised by the charges brought against him.

Prosecutors said on Tuesday that they will review the full verdict before deciding on whether to appeal against the lone, lesser conviction.

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