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Former Israeli prime minister indicted

By Michal Zippori, CNN
January 5, 2012 -- Updated 1212 GMT (2012 HKT)
Ehud Olmert became Israel's prime minister in 2006, succeeding Ariel Sharon who suffered a massive stroke (file photo).
Ehud Olmert became Israel's prime minister in 2006, succeeding Ariel Sharon who suffered a massive stroke (file photo).
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The indictment names 13 figures and three companies
  • "Three serious bribery scandals that are linked to each other," the indictment says
  • Ehud Olmert is already on trial for other corruption allegations

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was indicted on Thursday for seeking bribes in three controversial real estate projects, among them the highly-disputed Holyland housing project in Jerusalem.

The indictment names 13 figures and three companies; among those charged are former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupliansky and Danny Dankner, a former chairman of one of Israel's major banks Bank Hapoalim.

The indictment proclaims that the suspects were involved in "three serious bribery scandals that are linked to each other that concern the promotion of real estate projects throughout the country by an elaborate system of giving and taking bribes by elected officials and public employees."

The suspects' charges include bribery, money laundering and tax fraud, according to the indictment.

One of the real estate projects mentioned in the indictment is the Holyland housing project, a massive luxury apartment complex in southwest Jerusalem that is considered an eyesore by some Jerusalem residents and in recent years has become a symbol to some of municipal graft and corruption.

Olmert is already standing trial on a number of corruption charges which allegedly took place between 2002 and 2006 while he served as mayor of Jerusalem and held several cabinet posts under then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Olmert became prime minister in 2006 after succeeding prime minister Ariel Sharon who suffered a massive stroke. He announced his resignation in August 2008 after ths Israeli police recommendation that he stand trial.

Prosecutors accuse Olmert of double billing government agencies for travel, taking cash from an American businessman in exchange for official favors and acting on behalf of his former law partner's clients.

At the opening of his trial on Sept 25, 2009 Olmert said " for the last three years I have been subject to an almost inhumane system of smearing and investigations and have naturally paid a heavy price for this period..now is the time for facts and only facts. I have come here as an innocent man and I believe I'll come out of here an innocent man."

CNN's Kevin Flower contributed to this report.

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