An Israeli court cleared former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today of the central charges in a multi-case corruption trial that forced him from power, but convicted him of a lesser charge of breach of trust. The verdict was seen as a major victory for Olmert, who stepped down as prime minister for the centrist Kadima party in 2009 to battle the allegations. His conviction on the lesser charge made him the first Israeli prime minister ever convicted of a crime, and his legal troubles are far from over: He will be sentenced on Sept. 6 and is currently standing trial in a separate real estate bribery case. For now at least, a return to politics for the 66-year-old Olmert appears unlikely.
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 channeling state grants to companies linked to a close friend. He was acquitted in the first two cases and found guilty in the last. Olmert's lawyer, Eli Zohar, said he would not appeal this conviction. "There was no corruption," said Olmert afterward. "There was no taking of money. There was no use of money. There were no cash envelopes."