Supreme Court cuts Ehud Olmert’s prison term in Holyland affair

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will serve 18 months in prison for his part in the Holyland corruption case, the Supreme Court ruled.

The Supreme Court as part of Olmert’s appeal during a hearing on Tuesday morning cut his prison time from the six years ordered by the Tel Aviv District Court during his sentencing in May 2014.

The ruling still makes Olmert the first prime minister to be sentenced to jail time. He is scheduled to enter prison on Feb. 15, 2016.

The Holyland affair, as what has been called Israel’s largest corruption scandal is known, involved the payment of bribes to government officials by the developers of the Holyland project, a development of luxury  high-rise apartments in Jerusalem.

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The justices acquitted Olmert of receiving the larger of the two bribes,  about $130,000, but upheld his conviction for accepting a bribe of about $15,400.

In a statement given after the verdict, Olmert maintainted that he had never accepted any bribes, but said that he respected the decision of the Supreme Court justices.

Olmert resigned as prime minister in September 2008 after police investigators recommended that he be indicted in multiple corruption scandals.

In May 2015, Olmert was sentenced to eight months in prison for his conviction for accepting cash-filled envelopes from an American-Jewish businessman, Morris Talansky, and using it for personal and not political expenses.  That case currently also is under appeal to the Supreme Court.

Also during Tuesday’s hearing, the appeal of former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski , Olmert’s successor who had been sentenced to six years in prison for directing bribe money to a Jerusalem charity, was rejected, but his prison sentence was modified to six months of community service due to his ill health.  The court on Tuesday also partially accepted the appeals of four other people found guilty in the case and reduced their prison sentences, and let stand the sentences of two others.

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