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Friday, Oct. 31, 2003 at 9:26 PM
JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was grilled for seven hours by fraud squad detectives over a simmering corruption scandal involving two of his sons, police sources said.
A five-strong group of investigators who entered his official Jerusalem residence at 9:00 am (0700 GMT) wrapped up their questioning of the premier at around 4:00 pm, police sources and reports said.
Police said that they would issue a lengthier statement later but public radio reported that detectives would return to question the prime minister next week.
Sharon faced questioning over allegations that he used a 1.5-million-dollar loan from South African businessman Cyril Kern to return contributions for his 1999 campaign for the leadership of the right-wing Likud party that had been deemed illegal.
The investigators, led by the national fraud squad's chief Lieutenant Commander Miri Golsan, want to know under what conditions Sharon accepted the loan from Kern, who has been described as a "personal friend" of the prime minister.
Sharon's son Omri, a Likud MP who is believed to have brokered the loan, was questioned for an hour and a half by police earlier this month.
In January, the prime minister rejected corruption allegations against his family as "scornful libel" but he has so far refrained from answering numerous questions about the affair.
Sharon senior was also expected to have to answer questions about the activities of his second son, Gilad.
Gilad allegedly helped contractor David Appel to promote a multi-million dollar Greek resort in exchange for cash and a commitment by Appel to pour money into the Sharon family's ranch in the Negev desert.
Also questioned by police, Gilad refused to supply officers with financial documents relating to the affair.
Ariel Sharon publicly scolded fellow Likud MP Naomi Blumenthal for failing to answer police questioning over a cash-for-votes scandal earlier this year and some of his political opponents have called on him to fully cooperate.
The Haaretz daily said that Sharon has been preparing for his round of questioning all week with his lawyer Dori Kegelsblad, who has been tapped as a possible replacement for the current Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein, whose term of office ends at the end of the year.
The investigators had been mandated by Rubinstein to question the premier.
The corruption affair has helped lead to a slump in Sharon's poll ratings at a time when the economy is in crisis and the peace process with the Palestinians has ground to a complete halt.
Sharon's long-time rival Benjamin Netanyahu , his predecessor as Likud leader, also faced questioning at the hands of police investigators after his time as Israeli prime minister over allegations that he failed to declare gifts received while in office.
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||Friday, Oct. 31, 2003 at 9:28 PM
||Friday, Oct. 31, 2003 at 10:32 PM
|Might as well investigate...
||Friday, Oct. 31, 2003 at 10:57 PM
|To the Sharon apologist above
||Saturday, Nov. 01, 2003 at 3:10 AM
||Saturday, Nov. 01, 2003 at 3:17 AM
|you lost the argument when
||Saturday, Nov. 01, 2003 at 6:44 AM
|I perfectly predicted your response, didn't I?
||Sunday, Nov. 02, 2003 at 2:36 AM
||Sunday, Nov. 02, 2003 at 2:45 AM
|You are despicable
||Sunday, Nov. 02, 2003 at 4:09 AM
||Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 9:05 PM
||Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 9:59 PM
|you would probally be mad if someone
||Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2003 at 9:30 AM
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