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Israeli court convicts ex-premier Olmert of bribery

By The Associated Press

This article was published March 31, 2014 at 6:45 a.m.

JERUSALEM — An Israeli court on Monday convicted former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in a wide-ranging bribery case, a verdict that could send him to prison and that crushed his hopes for a political comeback.

The development seals the most serious legal battle the 68-year-old Olmert has waged since he was forced to step down as prime minister in 2009 amid a flurry of corruption allegations.

It also capped a political career that saw Olmert transform himself from a sharp-tongued backbencher in the hard-line Likud Party into a global statesman whose push for peace with the Palestinians came crashing down because of his legal troubles.

On Monday, the Tel Aviv district court handed down its decision in a Jerusalem real estate scandal case related to Olmert's activities before he become prime minister in 2006.

A total of 13 government officials, developers and other businesspeople were charged in three separate schemes related to the Holyland housing development in Jerusalem, in what was regarded as perhaps the largest corruption scandal ever exposed in Israel.

Sentencing is set for April 28. Legal experts say the conviction will almost certainly entail prison time for Olmert.

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