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Court Lets Olmert off the Political Hook

A Jerusalem court lets Ehud Olmert off the political hook and gives him a light sentence that does not block his return to politics.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 9/24/2012, 1:43 PM

Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Israel News Photo: Flash 90

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert can return to politics before seven years despite his conviction for breach of trust, the Jerusalem District Court ruled Monday.

The court slapped a fine of less than $18,000 on him and gave him one-year suspended jail sentence but did not accept the prosecutor’s request that Olmert serve six months in community service.

The first Israeli Prime Minister ever to be convicted for a crime, he was convicted two months ago on a charge of breach of trust while he served as Industry, Trade and Labor Minister. He still faces charges of bribery in the Holyland apartment project, re-zoned for construction when he was mayor of Jerusalem.

A sentence of community service of more than three months would have implicitly defined the crime as one of moral turpitude, prohibiting him from re-entering politics for seven years.

The government prosecutor recommended to the court that Olmert servie six months in community service, pay a fine and be given probation up to one year in jail. However, it did not ask that his crime be defined as one of “moral turpitude,” which would virtually end the 67-year-old former Prime Minister’s political career.

The July trial concluded with Olmert’s being declared not guilty on two other charges, one involving “double billing” from a travel agency and the other for accepting at least $150,000 in cash from American businessman Moshe Talansky.