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Israel’s Supreme Court sends Former prime minister Olmert to 18 months in prison for bribery

In a separate case, Olmert was sentenced earlier this year to eight months in prison for unlawfully accepting money from a U.S. supporter. He is also appealing that sentence.

Ehud Olmert

 

Israel’s supreme court on Tuesday reduced former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s prison sentence for a sweeping Holyland bribery scandal from six years to 18 months. The first Israeli leader to ever serve behind bars. Olmert will begin serving his sentence on Feb. 15.

Olmert was acquitted of transferring 500, ooo shekels (about $125, 000) in bribes from the state’s witness Shmuel Dechner to his brother Yossi Olmert, but was convicted – in a unanimous decision among all five justices – of accepting 60, 000 shekels in bribes. Olmert’s brother Yossi implicated the ex-prime minister during the trial by confirming he had received some NIS 500, 000 – money that Olmert’s former aide Shula Zaken claimed the prime minister knew was a bribe.

Olmert was forced to resign as prime minister in 2009 amid a flurry of corruption allegations. He was convicted in 2014 and sentenced to six years and 1 million shekels fine in a wide-ranging case that accused him of accepting bribes to promote a controversial Holyland real-estate project in Jerusalem. He was charged for acts that happened while he was mayor of Jerusalem and the country’s trade minister, before he became prime minister in 2006.

Following the verdict, Olmert gave a statement to the press, declaring that he had never accepted any bribes, but respected the decision of the justices to uphold his conviction for the lesser charge.

He likened the Holyland affair to “an irritating, onerous black cloud” and said a great weight had been lifted with the acquittal in that case.

Olmert said he was “satisfied” about his partial exoneration. He added it was still a “hard day” but he said he accepted the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“A stone has been lifted from my heart, ” he said. “I said in the past, I was never offered and I never took a bribe. And I say that again today.”

In a separate case, Olmert was sentenced earlier this year to eight months in prison for unlawfully accepting money from a U.S. supporter. He is also appealing that sentence.

 

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