Sharon faces bribery indictment

Israeli state prosecutors are preparing to indict Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in a long-running corruption scandal that could drive him out of office.

    A businessman allegedly bribed Sharon for favours

    Israel's Channel 2 television on Saturday reported that state attorney Edna Arbel is planning to submit the charge sheet within days to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, who will then make the final decision on whether to put Sharon on trial.

    Mazuz thereafter could take months to decide whether to accept Arbel's recommendations, adding to the uncertainty about the prime minister's political future.

    Enough evidence

    Arbel's draft indictment concluded there were sufficient grounds to charge Sharon with bribery in connection with a real estate deal involving his son, Gilad, and land developer David Appel.

    Prosecutors allege Appel hired Gilad Sharon in 1999 and paid him large sums to persuade his father, then foreign minister, to promote real estate deals including a Greek island resort that was never built.

    Protesting innocence

    Sharon has in the past denied any wrongdoing. Appel, who was charged in January with trying to bribe Sharon, also denies the allegations against him.

    An official indictment would not bind Sharon to resign but analysts say public opinion and pressure from some coalition partners could force him to step down.

    Sharon has said he has no intention of resigning over the allegations.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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