Ex-PM Ehud Olmert will appeal his six-year sentence for corruption

Tel Aviv District Court judge David Rosen Tuesday sentenced former prime minister Ehud Olmert to six years in prison and a fine of one million shekels ($340,000) on two charges of accepting bribes as mayor of Jerusalem for helping the developers obtain approval for the Holyland Park residential project in return for 560,000 shekels. The judge characterized Olmert as wise, smart and highly educated – and at the same time a criminal who perpetrated a felony with moral turpitude (which bars him from political service for seven years.)

He topped the list of defendants found guilty in the same case on March 31, six of whom were sentenced with him Tuesday. As the only Israeli prime minister ever to be convicted of a felony or sentenced to prison his case is unique. The judge set Sept. 1 as the starting date for all the prison sentences.

The former prime minister has announced he will appeal to the High Court against his conviction on the grounds that his guilt was not proven.

Before announcing the sentences, Judge Rosen outlined the prime yardstick guiding him in handing down sentences. The recipients of bribes bear greater guilt than the bribe-givers, said Judge Rosen, because out of greed and covetousness, they have betrayed the public trust in its leaders and institutions, contaminated the public service and undermined the government establishment, The more elevated the defendant’s position, said the judge, the graver the offense and the greater the penalty deserved. In this case, the defendant was the source of the corruption that contaminated the system he headed. Protecting the public and its institutions is an overriding concern.

Other sentences handed down reflected the judge’s guideline:

Uri Sheetrit, city engineer, received the highest penalty of 7 years jail and half a million shekels fine ($180,000).
The bribers and middlemen were given sentences that were lighter than those demanded by the prosecution.
Hillel Cherny, director of the Holyland project: 3.5 years prison, NIS 2 million fine.

Avigdor Kelner, project leader:  3 years in prison and NIS 1 million fine.

Meir Rabin, city council member and broker: 5 years in prison and NIS 500,000 fine.

Danny Dankner former Bank Hapoalim chairman: 3 years prison and NIS 500,000 fine.

Other prominent defendants, including former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski and Olmert’s former bureau chief Shula Zaken, face sentencing at a later date. Zaken reached a separate plea bargain deal with the prosecution for adding to the testimony against her former boss.

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