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Page last updated at 09:41 GMT, Monday, 8 September 2008 10:41 UK

Israeli PM 'should be indicted'

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert (03/08)
Mr Olmert has been PM since he succeeded Ariel Sharon in March 2006

Israeli police have formally recommended to prosecutors that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert be indicted in a corruption investigation.

The decision on whether to indict him now rests with the attorney general.

Mr Olmert has already announced that he will resign later this month because of the multiple corruption investigations.

The recommended charges include bribery, fraud, money laundering and breach of public trust. Mr Olmert denies all allegations against him.

The ruling Kadima party is to hold a leadership vote on 17 September.

EHUD OLMERT'S POLITICAL LIFE
1993: Begins 10-year stint as mayor of Jerusalem
2005: Leaves right-wing Likud party with former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to form Kadima
2006: Takes over as leader when Ariel Sharon suffers a stroke
2007: Helps re-launch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks after seven-year hiatus
2008: Announces plans to resign

Polls show Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as front-runner in the leadership race against Transport Minister and former defence chief Shaul Mofaz.

The police said they had evidence showing Mr Olmert allegedly accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from American businessman Morris Talansky.

Mr Olmert is also accused of filing duplicate claims to government agencies for travel expenses.

'Meaningless'

The accusations date back to his time as mayor of Jerusalem and minister of trade and industry before he became prime minister in 2006.

Mr Olmert's lawyers said the police recommendation to indict the prime minister was meaningless.

"The only person authorised by the law to decide whether to indict a prime minister is the attorney general. He has the authority and he bears the responsibility over the issue," his lawyers said in a statement.

But correspondents say there is almost complete unanimity in Israel that this latest move marks the end of the Olmert era.

Mr Olmert's government is suffering mounting internal divisions which correspondents say could prevent any significant decisions in Arab-Israeli peace talks.

On Sunday, he failed to convince cabinet members to discuss a relocation plan for settlers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.




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