Israel's attorney-general decides to indict Olmert

Thursday, November 27, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff

Israeli media reported on Wednesday that Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz has decided to file an indictment against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in one of the seven corruption scandals plaguing the Israeli leader.

Mazuz plans to charge Olmert for double booking speaking tours abroad during his time as minister of industry and trade. By double booking the trips, Olmert was able to collect money from the non-profit organizations on whose behalf he made the trips as well as the state treasury.

According to the charges, Olmert then used the extra cash to finance family vacations.

The indictment is still pending a hearing between Mazuz and Olmert that probably won't take place for several more months.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who replaced Olmert as leader of the Kadima Party in early primaries in September, has called on the prime minister to suspend himself immediately.

Speaking at a hastily-called press conference on Thursday, Livni said that while Olmert remains innocent until proven guilty, "Israel cannot tolerate having a prime minister who has been indicted. It is a moral and ethical test. The prime minister must suspend himself. There is no other option."

Aides to the prime minister responded that he has no intention of stepping down before Israel's February 10 general election, despite an earlier promise to suspend himself if the attorney-general decided to indict him.

Olmert was forced to resign as head of the Kadima Party by his coalition partners, leading to Livni's election as party leader and sparking early national elections. He is currently acting as a caretaker prime minister.

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