- - Tuesday, July 10, 2012

JERUSALEM — An Israeli court on Tuesday cleared former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of the central charges in a multicase corruption trial that forced him from power, but it 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 in 2009 to battle allegations that included accepting cash-stuffed envelopes from a supporter and pocketing the proceeds from a double-billing scam on overseas travel.

His conviction on the lesser charge of “breach of trust” made him the first Israeli prime minister ever convicted of a crime.

Beating the main charges could significantly rehabilitate Olmert’s public standing and shift the focus to questions on whether an overzealous prosecution unnecessarily hounded him from office.

Olmert’s legal troubles are far from over, however. He will be sentenced in September and is 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.


Arafat’s widow wants French probe of his death

PARIS — The widow of Yasser Arafat is planning to file a legal complaint in France asking authorities to investigate the death of her husband.

Palestinian authorities gave final approval Monday for the former Palestinian leader’s body to be exhumed and asked for an international investigation into his 2004 death in a French military hospital.

Arafat’s widow, Suha, recently gave the Arabian satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera her husband’s medical file and what she said were his belongings.

Switzerland’s Institute of Radiation Physics detected elevated traces of polonium-210 - a rare and highly lethal substance - on Arafat’s belongings but said the findings were inconclusive.


Bus crashes kill 27, including 2 tourists

RABAT — Two bus crashes in separate locations in Morocco have claimed 27 lives, including those of a German and a Dutch tourist, the state news agency reported Tuesday.

One bus flipped over on the highway Monday evening as it traveled between the Atlantic coast tourist destinations of Essaouira and Agadir in the south of the country, killing 17 people.

The Dutch and German foreign ministries confirmed their citizens were among the dead. The two dead tourists were both women.

Morocco is a popular tourist destination among Europeans, especially its coastal resorts on the Atlantic.

Earlier Monday, a bus speeding on mountainous roads along the Mediterranean crashed outside the city of Nador, killing 10 people and injuring 33 others. The dead included three women and a young girl.

According to the U.S. State Department website, traffic accidents are a “significant hazard” in Morocco.


Israel strikes Hamas in Gaza after attack

JERUSALEM — The Israeli air force said it struck two militant sites in the Gaza Strip in response to the latest rocket fire at southern Israel.

The military said the targets were hit early Tuesday. No casualties were reported in the operation or in the rocket fire from Gaza on Monday.

The military said Israel “will not tolerate any attempt by terrorist groups to target Israeli civilians and soldiers.”

Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip has been largely quiet since a major Israeli offensive 3 1/2 years ago, but there have been sporadic flare-ups of violence since then.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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