Ehud Olmert convicted in bribery scandal
The Tel Aviv District Court on Monday morning convicted former prime minister Ehud Olmert, along with nine other former senior officials and businessmen, of taking and giving bribes in the development of a massive Jerusalem construction project promoted while Olmert was mayor of the city over a decade ago.Olmert is the first politician to once govern as prime minister who's been handed such a serious conviction, and, he looks to be the first in that role to go to prison. He's had it coming for a long time, after all the disaster he led to circa 2006, including his botched effort in the second Lebanon war. In recent years, he also sought to undermine the current government for not advancing the "peace" process. So this conviction is richly deserved.
The ruling marks the first time a former Israeli prime minister has been convicted of bribery in what has been called one of the worst corruption scandals in the country’s history.
The verdict appeared to put an end to Olmert’s lingering hopes of making a comeback to national politics. Sentencing will take place at a later date, but legal experts say that the conviction will almost certainly entail years in prison for Olmert. [...]
According to the decision, the state’s witness gave Olmert’s debt-ridden brother Yossi Olmert post-dated checks for NIS 500,000 ($143,000) at Olmert’s behest. Dachner was representing real estate developer Hillel Charney, who was convicted on Monday of money laundering and bribing Olmert, his then-assistant — and future Jerusalem mayor — Uri Lupolianski, and others.
Dachner ”bought the services” of the mayor, who had no misgivings about breaking the law to help his cash-strapped brother, Rozen said. Olmert, he noted sardonically, considered the state’s witness a “magical treasure that stood at his disposal.”
Lupolianski, meanwhile, “was aware of the sizable ‘donations’ that were transferred and acted in contravention of proper standards,” he said.
“The broad canvas painted by the state’s witness revealed corrupt systems of government that had rotted over the years,” Rozen said in his decision. “Hundreds of thousands of shekels were transferred to elected and public officials.
“The state’s witness didn’t transfer the money out of the goodness of his heart, but rather with the intention that Olmert would help promote projects,” he added.
Entrepreneurs Avigdor Kelner and Meir Rabin were also convicted of giving bribes. Those convicted of taking bribes, in addition to Olmert and Lupolianski, were former Bank Hapoalim chairman Dan Dankner; attorney Uri Messer; former Jerusalem city engineer Uri Sheetrit; former deputy mayor and city councilman Eliezer Simhayof; Avraham Feiner, a former city councilman; and Olmert’s longtime aide and confidante, Shula Zaken.
The likely maximum sentence for bribery as it pertains to Olmert in the Holyland case is seven years. The maximum sentence for bribery has been changed to ten years in recent years, however, it was seven years at the time the crime was committed. Legal precedent suggests that the state will take into account the maximum sentence at the time the crime was committed.They certainly should. Olmert is asking for it, and so too were Deri and Benizri. They're all a bunch of corrupt politicians.
Professor Emanuel Gross, a legal expert at Haifa University, said that he expected the state would seek a long prison sentence for Olmert, which is standard for those convicted of bribery.
Gross surmised that the state would seek a long sentence in relation to the maximum allowed for bribery given that this is one of the most serious crimes that someone has been convicted of while in public service. He said that the fact that Olmert took bribes while he was the mayor of Jerusalem and a minister - and later became prime minister - was likely to lead the state to seek a harsher sentence.
"You expect these people to exemplify integrity, and if, of all people, our leaders are corrupt, then the fitting punishment is several years in prison," Gross said.
Gross compared Olmert's case to those of Arye Deri and Shlomo Benizri, both ministers convicted of bribery who were sentenced to three and four years in prison respectively.
"[Olmert] is a much more senior figure. It is reasonable that the state would request punishment for him that is, at the least, equal, if not more severe."