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Former Israeli PM Olmert Headed to Prison

  • Robert Berger

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert speaks to the press in the Supreme Court after the court reduced his sentence from six years to 18 months in prison in the Holyland corruption case in Jerusalem, Dec. 29, 2015.

A top Israeli politician heads to prison after a long corruption scandal.

Israel's Supreme Court Tuesday partially overturned a bribery conviction against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. His sentence was reduced from six years to 18 months in prison.

Olmert expressed relief, saying a great burden has been lifted from his heart.

The ex-prime minister, who is 70, was convicted two years ago by a lower court of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to promote a controversial real-estate project in Jerusalem. This allegedly occurred when he served as the mayor of Jerusalem, prior to becoming prime minister in 2006.

Olmert denies it.

He said, “I was never offered and I never took a bribe.”

Nevertheless, while the Supreme Court overturned some of the bribery charges, it upheld others. Therefore, Olmert will become the first former Israeli leader to spend time behind bars.

State Prosecutor Liat Ben Ari said justice was served.

She said “the case represents a watershed in the war against corruption in Israel.” The justice system, Ben Ari said, has sent a strong message that “no one is above the law.”

Olmert led the centrist Kadima party when he was prime minister and worked on pushing forward peace talks with the Palestinians, before leaving office in 2009.