Former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert sentenced to 6 years in jail for corruption

Disgraced ex-premier must report to prison on September 1, giving him time to appeal

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 May, 2014, 5:36pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 May, 2014, 10:12pm

A Tel Aviv court yesterday sentenced former premier Ehud Olmert to six years in prison for accepting bribes linked to a major property development in Jerusalem.

Judge David Rosen also fined Olmert 1 million shekels (HK$2.24 million) over his involvement in one of the country's biggest corruption scandals.

The judge ordered Olmert to report to prison on September 1, giving him time to lodge a planned appeal.

Olmert, 68, who was convicted six weeks ago on two charges of taking bribes, is the first former Israeli prime minister to face prison for corruption.

"He held the most important and central position and ended up convicted of contemptible crimes," the judge said in passing the sentence.

"A public official who accepts bribes is tantamount to a traitor."

Following a two-year trial, Olmert was convicted on March 31 of taking bribes totalling 560,000 shekels, with the judge also saying he had committed perjury.

The trial was linked to the construction of Jerusalem's massive Holyland residential complex when Olmert served as the city's mayor.

The towering construction project, which dominates the city's skyline, is seen as a major blot on the landscape and widely reviled as a symbol of high-level corruption.

Wearing a royal blue shirt and khaki chinos, Olmert looked tired and subdued as he entered the courtroom.

Rosen described Olmert as "very smart" and "personable" but said he and a fellow city official also convicted of receiving bribes had worked to "line their own pockets".

In July 2012, a Jerusalem court found Olmert guilty of breach of trust but cleared him on two more serious charges related to the alleged receipt of cash-stuffed envelopes and multiple billing for trips abroad.

The Haifa-born politician was mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003, after which he served as a cabinet minister, holding the trade and industry portfolio as well as several others.

He became premier in 2006, leading the centre-right Kadima party into government, but resigned in September 2008 after police recommended that he be indicted in several graft cases.