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Former Israeli PM Olmert Goes to Prisonn Sentence


Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, center, enters prison to begin his sentence, in the central Israeli town of Ramle, Feb. 15, 2016.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert began a 19-month prison term Monday.

Olmert is the first former Israeli prime minister to serve time behind bars. He was convicted of bribery in a real estate scandal over events that occurred earlier, when he was mayor of Jerusalem.

In a statement before entering the prison, Olmert continued to claim innocence. “I categorically deny that I ever took a bribe,” he said.

Nevertheless, Olmert was found guilty of accepting about $130,000 in bribes to promote the construction of a luxury apartment complex in Jerusalem.

Olmert admitted that he made mistakes but denied any criminal wrongdoing.

He said he accepts “the sentence with a heavy heart because no one is above the law.”

Olmert is the latest of many senior Israeli officials to serve prison time.

They include former President Moshe Katsav, who is serving a seven-year term for rape.

The scandals have shaken public confidence in the government, leaving Israelis with the feeling that their elected officials are hopelessly corrupt.