Watch: Ehud Olmert enters prison

Disgraced former prime minister begins 19-month prison term for corruption. What can he expect on the inside?

Ari Soffer, | updated: 14:42

Ehud Olmert enters Maasiyahu Prison
Ehud Olmert enters Maasiyahu Prison
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Disgraced former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has begun his 19-month prison term for corruption Monday, with plenty of cameras on hand to capture the ingloriously historic moment as the first Israeli PM to serve time began his sentence.

18 of those months are for bribery in connection to the so-called Holyland corruption case. His sentence was initially six years, but controversially was reduced on appeal.

He was handed a further month in prison for obstruction of justice in a separate case.

The sentences could all be increased if the prosecution opts to appeal.

Earlier Monday, Olmert had issued a final personal video pleading his innocence - but one that is unlikely to draw sympathy from most Israelis, who feel his radically-reduced sentence is unduly lenient.

While incarcerated, Olmert is expected to enjoy "luxury" conditions at Maasiyahu Prison in Ramle, central Israel. He will be segregated from other inmates - a security precaution given his high-profile status - and will have his own ensuite bathroom and shower, TV, free access to public telephones, a library, sports equipment and other benefits accorded to "VIP" prisoners.

Special block 10

Olmert has been assigned to special block 10 in Maasiyahu prison in the central city of Ramle.

Like any other prisoner, he was due on admission to be photographed, searched, given a medical examination and interviewed by various officials, including a social worker, before being assigned a cell.

Block 10 was "intended to house prisoners who for various reasons cannot be placed with the general prison population," the Israel Prison Service said.  

Olmert will join four other unidentified inmates in the block, which has a maximum capacity of 18, and he will eventually have to share a cell.

"Due to his position, he is subject to various threats and is in danger," the prisons service added.

Socks and sweatshirts

Each of the six cells in block 10 has three beds, ensuite shower and toilet, a closet and a table, chairs and television.

There are public telephones in the corridor, classrooms and a block recreation room, a visiting room, two rooms for consultations with lawyers, a room used as a synagogue, a library, sports equipment, dining room and yard.

Inmates are allowed to bring from home up to 1,500 shekels ($386, 344 euros) in cash, four pairs of underpants, four pairs of socks, two towels and two sweatshirts without hoods or lining.  

They can also bring with them one blanket (not a duvet), two sheets, a pillowcase, and religious books, a prayer shawl and phylacteries, as well as soap, a tooth brush and tooth paste, and an ID card.

Roll call  

Each day Olmert will be woken up at 5:00 am for a roll call and will undergo a 7:30 am inspection. He is entitled to receive and send letters, which can be examined by the prison. The prisoner has to pay for the stamps and envelopes.

When leaving court for appeal hearings, Olmert will have to wear a prison uniform, but while inside, he can wear civilian clothes.

He will be able to spend up to 1,600 shekels ($412, 367 euros) a month at the prison's canteen on credit using money his family can wire to the prison.  

Like the other 26,000 prisoners at Maasiyahu, Olmert will be granted leave in the case of mortal illness, a death in his immediate family, a wedding or a religious ceremony.

AFP contributed to this report.