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Former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert's jail term reduced to 18 months

Former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert's jail term reduced to 18 months


Israel’s Supreme Court reduced former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s prison sentence from six years to 18 months after overturning the main bribery charge against him. The ruling is a partial victory for Olmert though he will still be the first former Israeli leader to go to prison.

He will become the first former head of government in the country’s history to be jailed.
Olmert, prime minister from 2006 to 2009, will be the first former head of government in Israel to be imprisoned. Olmert, 70, will begin serving his term on February 15, according to live reports from the Jerusalem courtroom.

The charges related to his 1992-2003 term as Jerusalem’s mayor and a large real estate deal in the city.

The first criminal conviction of a former Israeli head of government nearly two years ago all but ended speculation that Olmert – a centrist credited internationally with working towards a peace settlement with the Palestinians – might return to political life.

He had denied any wrongdoing in the property deal that led to the construction of the hilltop Holyland apartment towers, a hulking stone complex widely seen as one of Jerusalem’s worst eyesores.

“A large weight was lifted from my heart when the Supreme Court decided to acquit me of the main charge in the Holyland affair,” Olmert told reporters after the Supreme Court ruling.
“No bribe was ever offered to me and I never accepted one,” he said. “But I respect the verdict of the Supreme Court judges.”

A Tel Aviv District Court found Olmert guilty in 2014 of two bribery charges, saying that he accepted 500,000 shekels from developers of the Holyland project and 60,000 shekels in a separate real estate deal.

Ruling on Olmert’s appeal on Tuesday, a five-member Supreme Court panel said it had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt that he had solicited the 500,000 shekels. It upheld his conviction on accepting the smaller amount.