Peres, Lapid on Olmert's Prison Sentence: A Sad Day for Israel

Finance minister: 'A day in which a former prime minister is sent to jail is a sad day for Israeli democracy.'

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Olmert, prior to hearing his sentence, in the Tel Aviv court. May 13, 2014.
Olmert, prior to hearing his sentence, in the Tel Aviv court. May 13, 2014. Credit: AP

Israeli politicians commented Tuesday on former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's six-year prison sentence that was handed down earlier, calling it "a sad day" for Israel.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge David Rozen sentenced Olmert to six years in prison on two counts of bribery in the Holyland corruption case and also fined him 1 million shekels ($290,000).

President Shimon Peres, during an official visit to Norway, said: "This is a legal process that takes place in democratic countries. I don't have a role in the legal system, and it is clean from personal influences. This is a sad day for me, personally."

Commenting on Olmert's sentence, Finance Minister Yair Lapid also called it a sad day. "A day in which a former prime minister is sent to jail is a sad day for Israeli democracy as well as a sad day for me on a personal level," Lapid said. "But at the same time, it is an important day in which the legal system showed that no man is above the law."

Meretz chairwoman MK Zehava Gal-On called the sentencing a new chapter in which corruption will be aired out from Israel's political elite. "It's good that the court, both in the conviction and in the sentencing, sent a clear message that political and public corruption is a mark of disgrace and betrayal of the public's trust."

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who was Olmert's colleague in the Kadima party, said she fully believes in the court. "This is not an easy day in which a former prime minister is sentenced. I fully believe in the court and in the law enforcement authorities, and the public should feel the same."

In March, Olmert was found guilty of accepting bribes when he served as mayor of Jerusalem, in exchange for helping the developers of the city's Holyland Park residential project.

Olmert, who stood quietly in the courtroom with his head bowed, said he will appeal both the verdict and sentence to the Supreme Court.

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