Last updated: 24 September, 2012

Former Israeli Prime Minister Olmert gets fine but no jail time for graft

A Jerusalem court on Monday handed former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert a $19,000 fine and a suspended jail sentence for graft, meaning he will serve no jail time, court officials said.

The Jerusalem District Court sentenced the former premier to a one year jail sentence suspended for three years, and fined him 75,300 shekels ($19,200), court documents released to media said.

Reading the 27-page ruling, Judge Mussiya Arad said Olmert was guilty of a “grave and absolute conflict of interest” and that the gravity of the case required “a practical response,” Israeli public radio reported.

On July 10, the court found Olmert guilty of breach of trust in a closely watched corruption case, but cleared him on two other charges, in a verdict he himself declared was just.

Prosecutor Eli Abarbanel told reporters that his office was considering an appeal against the July verdict.

“This affair is not over,” he said. “For two and a half months the prosecution has been studying the verdict… a team of lawyers has been working on this in the most intensive way and is close to reaching a conclusion.”

“The sentencing considerations are complicated in this case, they are unusual. We shall examine this ruling studiously, not make off-the-cuff statements. We shall see if an appeal is justified or not.”

In a brief statement to reporters broadcast by public radio, Olmert said that he would “learn the necessary lessons” but he said nothing about a possible future return to politics.

“I am leaving the courtroom with my head held high,” he said. “I said last time that in everything regarding the offences of which I was convicted I would respect the court’s judgement and learn the necessary lessons.”

The conviction related to favours that Olmert granted a former colleague while he was serving as the trade and industry minister and could have seen him face a jail term of up to three years.

Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003, after which he served as a cabinet minister, holding the trade and industry portfolio as well as several others, before becoming premier in 2006.

He led the centre-right Kadima party into government, but resigned from the premiership in September 2008 after police recommended that he be indicted in several graft cases.

Olmert still faces a second trial over allegations he accepted bribes during his time as Jerusalem mayor to pave the way for the construction of the city’s massive Holyland residential complex.