Israel police to quiz Olmert again over graft scandal

Israeli police said on Tuesday they will question Prime Minister Ehud Olmert again this week over a corruption scandal that has rocked his government and which could lead to early elections.

Anti-fraud squad officers will question Olmert on Friday for the third time over suspicions he had unlawfully taken cash-stuffed envelopes from United States financier Morris Talansky before becoming premier in 2006, police spokesperson Mickey Rosenfeld said.

The interview will be held at Olmert’s official residence in Jerusalem, he said.

The graft investigation, the fourth to embroil the premier, led to a chorus of calls for Olmert’s resignation from the opposition and from coalition members who threatened to topple his government.

Olmert, who has denied any wrongdoing and refused to step down, weathered the political turmoil after agreeing to hold a primary vote in September to elect a new leader of his centrist Kadima party.

The centre-left Labour party, Olmert’s key coalition partner, has said it will quit the coalition if the premier is not replaced.

Talansky testified in May that he had given Olmert at least $150 000 in the 14 years to 2006, some of which might have been used to fund Olmert’s taste for luxury goods.

Olmert’s lawyers are to cross-examine Talansky on July 17.—AFP

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