Olmert faces further questioning

Ehud Olmert is questioned by police for the seventh time on allegations of corruption.

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The Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert is being questioned by police today for the seventh time since claims emerged in May that he had illegally received funds from a US financier. Anti-fraud squad officers questioned Mr Olmert at his official residence in Jerusalem, as was the case in previous interviews in a multi-pronged corruption probe. Police said the latest interview should last about two and a half hours.

Mr Olmert, 62, insists he is innocent of the allegations of wrongdoing in the 13 years before he became prime minister, when he served as mayor of Jerusalem and trade and industry minister. But dogged by six separate graft investigations, he announced on July 30 that he would step down after his centrist Kadima party holds an internal leadership election in mid-September. Mr Olmert is being questioned after allegations that wealthy US financier Morris Talansky financed his political campaigns and lifestyle.

Mr Talansky testified in May to having given Olmert about US$150,000, but he later faced a blistering cross-examination with the premier's lawyers accusing him of making contradictory statements and of lying. A Jerusalem court today accepted a request by Mr Talansky's lawyers to postpone further testimony he had been scheduled to give on Sunday and Monday. Mr Talanski's lawyers said their client wanted to avoid incriminating himself in a grand jury investigation being conducted against him in New York. * AFP