An Israeli court found former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert guilty of breach of trust, whilst acquitting him on two other more serious corruption charges, in a hearing this morning.
The Jerusalem district court cleared Olmert of criminality in relation to allegations that he did political favours for US businessman Moshe Talansky, in return for cash-stuffed envelopes. It also cleared him on the charge of fraud for claiming flight expense from multiple charities for speaking engagements abroad. However, the court convicted him on the charge of granting favours to a former colleague during his time as a minister of trade and industry.
Olmert’s legal battles are not over, as he still faces a second trial over allegations he accepted bribes during his time as Jerusalem mayor to smooth the way for the construction of the massive Holyland residential complex in the city. Nevertheless, his acquittal on the most serious charges against him in this trial, including the allegations that forced him to resign from his post as prime minister in 2008, will be seen as a victory for the former leader and his supporters.
Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003 after which he served as a cabinet minister, holding the trade and industry portfolio as well as several others, before serving as Prime Minister from 2006 to 2009.
Olmert has consistently claimed his innocence, calling the allegations against him a “ruthless witch-hunt”, and he could potentially return to politics if he is similarly acquitted in the so-called Holyland case. This will depend, however, on whether the court determines that his sentencing carries the status of “moral turpitude”, in which case he would be banned from office for seven years.