Olmert with attorney Eli Zohar
Olmert with attorney Eli Zohar Flash 90

Attorney Eli Zohar, one of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s lawyers, on Wednesday hinted that the media was responsible for Olmert’s conviction on bribery charges earlier this week, Kol Yisrael radio reported.

While he did not specifically mention Olmert’s verdict, Zohar, who spoke to students at the College of Management in Rishon LeZion, said that the media “judges defendants in the town square”, tries to influence judges and “pollutes” the justice process.

He went on to suggest that journalists who do so should be jailed. Asked by a Kol Yisrael radio reporter about his comments, Zohar said that verdict should not be based on common sense but on facts.

On Monday, Tel Aviv District Court Judge David Rosen convicted Olmert along with ten other defendants in the infamous Holyland corruption scandal.

Olmert's former bureau chief Shula Zaken was also convicted of accepting 100,000 shekels in bribe money.

Zaken signed a plea bargain with the prosecution days before the verdict was issued, and turned state’s evidence against Olmert.

While the plea bargain with Zaken includes a reduced sentence of 11 months less one day, Judge Rosen nevertheless made clear after reading the verdict that he would request serious arguments before approving the deal.

While Zohar did not directly address Olmert’s conviction in his comments on Wednesday, it is expected that Olmert’s legal team will appeal the conviction.

On Tuesday, law Professor Suzie Navot predicted that while Olmert’s chances of having his conviction overturned are slim, the appeal process will take a long while.

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