Former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert cleared of two charges but found guilty of one in corruption case


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The Independent Online

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has been cleared of the major charges in a corruption trial which forced him from power.

He was found guilty of a lesser offence - breach of trust - but it was not clear whether that verdict could send him to jail. If it does carry a prison sentence, he would become the first Israeli prime minister to serve time.

Olmert, 66, appeared calm and relieved as the verdict was delivered in the Jerusalem court.

The verdict, which capped a two-year trial, covered three separate allegations: illegally accepting funds from an American supporter, double-billing Jewish groups for trips abroad, and channelling state grants to companies linked to a close friend.

The charges were filed after he became prime minister in 2006, but stemmed back to his time as mayor of Jerusalem and later as a Cabinet minister.

After he was indicted in 2008, he stepped aside, and his Kadima Party lost power in the February 2009 elections which brought Benjamin Netanyahu into office.

Olmert's legal troubles are far from over. He is still facing trial in a bribery scandal surrounding a controversial Jerusalem property project. That case is expected to take at least another year.