Ehud Olmert sentenced to six years in prison for bribery conviction


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced to six years in prison for accepting bribes in the real estate scam known as the “Holyland affair.”

The sentence handed down Tuesday morning in Tel Aviv District Court would make Olmert the first Israeli premier to be sent to prison. Olmert also was fined 1 million shekels, or about $290,000, in what has been called Israel’s largest corruption scandal.

Olmert was convicted in March on two counts of bribery for accepting about $150,000 from developers of the Holyland project when he was the mayor of Jerusalem and later a government minister.  The project involved the development of high-rises in Jerusalem.

He and six others sentenced Tuesday — including his successor as mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lupoliansky — were ordered to present themselves to the prisons service on Sept. 1.

Judge David Rozen ruled that Olmert’s conviction includes “moral turpitude,” which comes with a ban on seeking public office for at least seven years after his sentence has ended.

“Those who give bribes are corrupt, but those who receive it inspire disgrace and cause the public to lose faith in the state,” the judge said in the courtroom. “A public servant who accepts bribes is equivalent to a traitor.”

Olmert said in court that he never accepted bribes and vowed to appeal the conviction and the sentence.

“I am proud of the decade in which I ran the honest city [of Jerusalem],” he said.

Olmert resigned as prime minister in September 2008 after police investigators recommended that he be indicted in multiple corruption scandals.

The Jerusalem District Court acquitted Olmert in 2012 on charges of fraud, breach of trust, tax evasion and falsifying corporate records in what became known as the Talansky and Rishon Tours affairs.

He was found guilty on a charge of breach of trust in what is known as the Investment Center case but has appealed. The case centered on charges that he improperly involved himself in decisions benefiting his friend and former business partner Uri Messer.

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