Police to question Israel PM for fifth time over bribery

Olmert announced last week he will not run in his ruling Kadima party's internal elections on Sept. 17 and will step down after a successor is chosen.

Police to question Israel PM for fifth time over bribery
Israeli police probing bribery and fraud allegations will question Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for the fifth time on Friday, a police spokesman said.

Olmert announced last week he will not run in his ruling Kadima party's internal elections on Sept. 17 and will step down after a successor is chosen.

Police are investigating allegations the embattled leader took bribes from an American businessman and made double claims for travel expenses while he served as trade minister and mayor of Jerusalem.

The prime minister will be questioned at his official residence in Jerusalem, the spokesman said.

Olmert's lawyers spent five days cross-examining American fundraiser Morris Talansky, who testified he gave the Israeli leader cash-filled envelopes. Talansky's cross-examination will resume on Aug. 31 and Sept 1.

Olmert announced on July 30 he would resign after Kadima chose a new leader, but vowed to pursue peace talks with the Palestinians and Turkish-mediated negotiations with Syria until his last day in office.

Top advisers said Olmert could stay in office for months as caretaker premier, long enough to continue the peace talks, but rival politicians have said he lacks the mandate to commit Israel to any deals.

Four Kadima ministers have launched campaigns to replace Olmert, with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni leading the pack and Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz, a former defence chief, close behind her.

Olmert has faced numerous investigations into his financial affairs from his 10-year stint as mayor of Jerusalem, ending in 2003, and then as a cabinet minister until as prime minister in early 2006.

Reuters
Last Mod: 08 Ağustos 2008, 08:30
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