Ehud Olmert has prison term cut in bribery conviction


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had his prison term cut to 18 months from six years for his part in the Holyland corruption case.

The Supreme Court, as part of Olmert’s appeal during a hearing Tuesday morning, cut the term ordered by the Tel Aviv District Court in May 2014.

Olmert is the first Israeli prime minister to be sentenced to jail time. He is scheduled to enter prison on Feb. 15.

The Holyland affair, what is being called the largest corruption scandal in Israel, involved the payment of bribes to government officials by the developers of a luxury high-rise apartment complex in Jerusalem.

The justices acquitted Olmert of receiving the larger of the two bribes, about $130,000, but upheld his conviction for accepting a bribe of about $15,400.

In a statement after the verdict, Olmert maintained that he had never accepted any bribes, but said he respected the decision of the Supreme Court justices. He also acknowledged how difficult the case has been on his family.

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

In May, Olmert was sentenced to eight months in prison after being convicted for accepting cash-filled envelopes from an American-Jewish businessman, Morris Talansky, and using it for personal and not political expenses. The case is under appeal to the Supreme Court.

Also at Tuesday’s hearing, the appeal of former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, Olmert’s successor who had been sentenced to six years in prison for directing bribe money to a Jerusalem charity, was rejected, but his prison sentence was modified to six months of community service due to his ill health.

The court also partially accepted the appeals of four others found guilty in the case and reduced their prison sentences, but let stand the sentences of two others.

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