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Israel ex-PM Olmert gets eight months for corruption

Monday, May 25, 2015 - 14:24
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A Jerusalem court sentenced former prime minister Ehud Olmert to eight months in prison on Monday, after convicting him of corruption in a March retrial, Israeli media reported.

[JERUSALEM] A Jerusalem court sentenced former prime minister Ehud Olmert to eight months in prison on Monday, after convicting him of corruption in a March retrial, Israeli media reported.

Lawyers for Olmert, who served as premier from 2006 to 2009, immediately announced they would appeal.

The 69-year-old already faces a six-year prison sentence handed down in a separate bribery case which is currently the subject of an appeal to the supreme court.

Olmert has always insisted on his innocence, describing the allegations against him as "a brutal, ruthless witch-hunt".

It has been a humiliating fall from grace for the debonair man who took over as prime minister after his mentor and predecessor Ariel Sharon lapsed into a coma from which he never recovered.

Olmert had initially been acquitted of fraud and corruption in the case, escaping in 2012 with a US$19,000 fine and a suspended jail sentence for breach of trust.

But new evidence came to light during his trial in the other corruption case, and prosecutors again pressed the charges.

In return for a reduction in sentence, his former secretary and confidante Shula Zaken brought to the court secret recordings of conversations she had with Olmert.

Olmert is heard talking about the tens of thousands of dollars that he received from businessman Morris Talansky while trade and industry minister in the early 2000s.

The six-year prison sentence handed down against Olmert in May last year was the first ever against a former Israeli premier for corruption.

After a two-year trial, he was convicted of taking bribes to the tune of 560,000 shekels (now S$188,000) while mayor of Jerusalem between 1993 and 2003 from the developers of the city's massive Holyland residential complex.

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.

Olmert resigned as premier in September 2008 after police recommended that he be indicted for graft, but he remained in office until March 2009, when the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was sworn in.

AFP

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