Former PM Olmert Convicted in Bribery Case

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -

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.

On Monday, the Tel Aviv district court handed down its decision in a Yerushalayim 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.

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

Olmert was charged for acts committed while he was mayor and later minister of industry and trade.

The former prime minister appeared shocked by the verdict. His lawyers said it was like “lightning on a clear day.”

The conviction puts a dramatic end to Olmert’s long political career, which was dogged by corruption allegations but which — until Monday — rarely stuck.