Ehud Olmert becomes first Israeli PM to face trial

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Jerusalem, Aug. 31 (ANI): Following the filing of a indictment against him on Sunday, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has become the first premier in Israel's history against whom criminal charges have been brought.

The charge sheet, which also cites Olmert's close aide-Shula Zaken, covers four separate investigations - the Rishon Tours affair; Olmert's relations with his close friend, attorney Uri Messer, and US financial backer Moshe Talansky; his alleged deceptions of the State Comptroller's Office; and Zaken's alleged wiretapping of Olmert's conversations.

The 60-page indictment alleges that Olmert charged the state and donors more than the flight tickets cost during the 17 trips he took from 2002 to 2005. The indictment states that Olmert also double-billed for hotel and transfer costs, the Jerusalem Post reports.

According to the charge sheet, Olmert and Zaken "exploited Olmert's status and the high public offices by deceiving organizations, public institutions, the state and government officials."

It further charges that Olmert received 600,000 dollars from Talansky between 1997 and 2005 and did not report this income.

Uri Messer kept a secret cash fund for Olmert, which amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Zaken transferred the funds to Messer and kept tabs on the deposits. From time to time, Olmert would ask for some of the money.

His aide Zaken was charged with illegal wiretapping and fraud and breach of faith for allegedly eavesdropping on Olmert's phone conversations.

Olmert is hopeful that he will come out clean.

"Olmert is convinced that in court, he can and will prove his innocence once and for all. It is important to remember that the Cremieux Street and Bank Leumi affairs started off with big headlines that lasted for years, and ended up in nothing. That is what will happen to these affairs as well," Olmert's spokesman, Amir Dan, said. (ANI)

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