MIDDLE EAST: Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert denies involvement in corruption case
- Title: MIDDLE EAST: Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert denies involvement in corruption case
- Date: 17th April 2010
- Summary: JERUSALEM (FILE - FEBRUARY 25, 2010) (REUTERS) EXTERIORS OF JERUSALEM DISTRICT COURT FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER EHUD OLMERT ARRIVING AT COURT FOR THE OPENING OF HIS TRIAL MEDIA CREWS OUTSIDE COURTROOM
- Reuters ID: LVA2D4AOLB0ZTT70AYELS1M6I151
- Duration: 00:00:13
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Domestic Politics
- Story Text: Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, already on trial for corruption, on Thursday (April 15) denied wrongdoing in a Jerusalem luxury housing project in which media reports have alleged he took hefty bribes.
In a pre-recorded television statement aired on prime-time television, Olmert said he was ready and willing to answer police questions in what has become known as the "Holyland affair" at any time and said he was completely innocent.
"I was never offered bribes and I never took bribes from anybody in any matter, in any form, either directly or indirectly," the former prime minister said.
Olmert, who cut short a visit to Europe on Wednesday and returned home, said he was relieved that a court order barring publication of details of the case had been lifted. It had failed to stop days of local media speculation about his alleged involvement.
He said he was ready and willing to be questioned by the police at any time and at any stage.
Veteran politician Olmert, 64, served as Jerusalem mayor from 1993 to 2003 and prime minister from 2006 to 2009.
Police announced on Wednesday the arrest of Uri Lupolianski, a rabbi who succeeded Olmert as Jerusalem's mayor and held the post until 2008, in an investigation into whether bribes amounting to millions of dollars were paid for building permits.
No charges have been filed against Lupolianski, who was a deputy mayor under Olmert.
Police and court spokesmen have declined comment on the media reports that led Israeli radio bulletins and dominated news web sites.
For years, many Israelis have questioned how the Holyland compound's fortress-like circle of towers -- still under construction and widely viewed as an eyesore -- received planning permission in a city that is mostly low-rise.
Olmert is already on trial on suspicion that while serving in public office before becoming prime minister, he received tens of thousands of dollars from a U.S. businessman and double-billed organisations for foreign travel expenses.
He has said he is innocent.
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