JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, already on trial over corruption accusations, was indicted on Thursday on new bribery charges over the construction of a hulking luxury apartment complex that dominates a Jerusalem hilltop.
Prosecutors said millions of dollars in bribes were paid to Olmert, Jerusalem’s mayor from 1993 to 2003, and other civil servants to ensure the approval of plans for the Holyland towers. Olmert has denied any wrongdoing.
He has also pleaded not guilty in separate proceedings that began in 2009 over allegations he took cash for favours and double-billed charities for airfare to attend overseas fund-raisers while serving as a cabinet minister and mayor, before becoming prime minister in 2006.
Olmert, who headed the centrist Kadima party, resigned as Israel’s leader in September 2008, saying he wanted to clear his name. He stayed on as caretaker prime minister until March 2009 when Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-leaning government was sworn in.
The architecture of the massive Holyland development has attracted unrelenting criticism. An article in Haaretz newspaper referred to the project as an “atrocity,” a “catastrophe” and a “very ugly project, an eyesore.”
The 83-page indictment said the project’s developers, who also have been charged in the case, received zoning and tax breaks in return for bribes.
Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Peter Graff