He is the country's first former prime minister to face criminal charges. The case may signal a more aggressive judicial effort to fight political corruption.
Prosecutors in Israel have indicted former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on a series of corruption charges that accuse him of taking envelopes stuffed with cash, falsely billing the government for official trips, and directing business to close allies. He is the first former prime minister in Israel’s history to face criminal charges.
The litigation to follow is likely to roil Israel, with hundreds of high profile Israeli citizens named as witnesses. Already the 70-page indictment, filed on Sunday, has caused a sensation by exposing the alleged web of connections between those citizens and senior establishment officials, according to Haaretz, a liberal newspaper in Israel.
Haaretz's Aluf Benn has called the indictment the “battle of [Olmert’s] life,” and also argues that the case may highlight a new judicial effort to combat the rampant corruption within Israel’s political system.
It can reflect the depth of the corruption and decay of the Israeli political system. But it can also reflect the fearless attitude of the legal system toward politicians….
Irrespective of the result, the indictment describes a complete breakdown of the system of regulation that is meant to ensure that the leaders of the country keep their hands clean.
Olmert had resigned amid investigation
Ehud Olmert was elected prime minister in 2006. But he stepped down in 2008 when he “became the focus of a graft and bribery investigation, prompting a growing number of political allies to call for his resignation,” as the Christian Science Monitor reported.