Middle East

Israel ex-PM Ehud Olmert to serve jail term for bribery

Ehud Olmert (2012) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ehud Olmert will be the first former Israeli head of government to serve jail time

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been ordered to serve 18 months in jail for bribery.

Olmert had been sentenced to six years by a lower court in 2014, but this was reduced by the Supreme Court.

The 70-year-old was convicted over a property deal that took place while he served as mayor of Jerusalem, prior to becoming prime minister in 2006.

Olmert, who stepped down in 2009, will become the first former Israeli head of government to go to prison.

He is due to begin serving his sentence on 15 February.

'Weight lifted'

The Supreme Court acquitted Olmert of receiving a 500,000-shekel ($130,000; £86,000) bribe from the developers of Holyland, a controversial block of flats in Jerusalem, after he appealed against the March 2014 conviction.

A separate conviction of illicitly taking a 60,000-shekel payment for another project was upheld. The charge related to the development of land outside Tel Aviv owned by the Hazera company, Haaretz newspaper reported.

"A heavy weight was lifted from my chest today, when the Supreme Court exonerated me of the main charge, of Holyland," Olmert said following the ruling.

"No bribe was ever offered to me and I never accepted one."

Several other government officials and businesspeople were convicted alongside Olmert in 2014.

The judge at the time said he was guilty of "moral turpitude".

In a separate case, Olmert was sentenced earlier this year to eight months in prison for fraud and breach of trust for accepting illegal payments from an American businessman.

The Supreme Court is yet to rule on Olmert's appeal in that case.

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