Tel Aviv District Court judge David Rosen Tuesday sentenced former prime minister Ehud Olmert to six years in prison and a fine 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 ($160,000). 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.)
Olmert tops the list of defendants who were 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 to be sentenced to prison, his case is unique. He is expected to appeal to the supreme court.
Before announcing the sentences, Judge Rosen outlined the yardstickhe used for the setences he handed down. The recipients of bribes bear greater guilt than the bribers, said Judge Rosen, because out of greed and covetousness, they betrayed the public trust in its leaders, contaminated the public service and undermined ruling institutions. The more elevated the defendant’s position, said the judge, the graver the offense and the greater the penalty deserved. Protecting the public and institutions is an overriding concern.
The prosecution asked for a minimum sentence of six years in prison and a large fine (NIS1,347,000). Olmert’s lawyer Eli Zohar asked the court to give him only community service or 18 months at most.
Other prominent defendants included former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski, Olmert’s former bureau chief Shula Zaken, Hillel Cherny, former Bank Hapoalim chairman Dan Dankner and a line of other former Jerusalem officials. Zaken reached a separate plea bargain deal with the prosecution for adding to the testimony against her former boss.
Zaken, Lupolianski and another former Jerusalem official, Avraham Penner, faced sentencing at a later date.