Jail seals corruption downfall of 
former Israeli premier Olmert

0
Have your say

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has been sentenced to eight months in prison for unlawfully accepting money from a US supporter.

The verdict in Jerusalem District Court caps the dramatic downfall of a man who only years earlier led the country and hoped to bring about a historic peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Olmert was convicted in March in a retrial and the sentencing comes in addition to a six-year prison sentence he received last year in a separate bribery conviction, ensuring the end of the former premier’s political career.

His lawyers said they would appeal against the ruling.

Olmert was forced to resign in early 2009 amid the corruption allegations. His departure cleared the way for hardliner Benjamin Netanyahu’s election and subsequent peace efforts have not succeeded.

Olmert’s lawyer, Eyal Rozovsky, said the former Israeli leader’s legal team would appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court. They were granted a 45-day stay, meaning Olmert will avoid jail for now. He was given a suspended sentence of an additional eight months and fined $25,000 (£16,130).

A slew of character witnesses had vouched for Olmert, including former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Israeli Mossad chief Meir Dagan.

The verdict stated that it recognized Olmert’s vast contributions to Israeli society and sentenced him to less than the prosecution had demanded. However, it ruled that “a black flag hovers over his conduct”.

Olmert, 69, was acquitted in 2012 of a series of charges that included accepting cash-stuffed envelopes from US businessman Morris Talansky when Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem and a cabinet minister. He was found to have received about £380,000 from Mr Talansky during his term as mayor, and additional amounts in cash during his term as a Cabinet minister, but a court did not find evidence the money had been used for unlawful personal reasons or illegal campaign financing.