Appeal considered after ‘lenient’ Ehud Olmert sentence

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 28, 2012
Guilty of breach of trust: Olmert

Guilty of breach of trust: Olmert

Israel’s State Prosecution is considering an appeal against what it considers the excessively lenient sentence handed down to former prime minister Ehud Olmert on Monday by the Jerusalem District Court.

Mr Olmert was found guilty two months ago of breach of trust while serving as Industry, Trade and Employment Minister, but was cleared on two more serious corruption charges. This week he was given a suspended sentence of one year and a NIS 75,300 (£12,000) fine.

The prosecutors had demanded Mr Olmert receive at least a short custodial sentence which could have been served through community service. The court harshly criticised the way the former PM had awarded grants to companies represented by his old friend and partner Uri Messer, but took into account the long trial, in which he was acquitted of two other charges and the fact that the preliminary court hearings had forced his resignation. On this basis, the court decided that a suspended sentence would be sufficient.

Following the sentencing, Mr Olmert said: “I am walking out of the court with my head held high.”

He is still facing charges in the separate Holyland case in which he is accused of accepting millions of shekels in bribes for authorising real-estate projects, but his confidants have said that he is already considering a return to politics.

Jerusalem District Attorney said: “The case is not over, the principle of equality does not allow us to sentence Olmert to anything less than a custodial punishment. A rare conflict of interest and giving grants to companies represented by the accused friend warrants a stiff penalty.”

Last updated: 9:45am, September 28 2012