Israeli Former Judicial Officials Ask President to Expunge Former Prime Minister Olmert’s Record

Gidi Weitz
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Former prime minister Ehud Olmert at the Maariv Conference, Herzliya, February 26, 2020
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert at the Maariv Conference, Herzliya, February 26, 2020Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Gidi Weitz

Former Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and former State Comptroller Joseph Shapira are trying to convince President Reuven Rivlin to expunge former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s criminal record.

Expunging a criminal record removes the status of moral turpitude placed on a public figure after they have served their sentence. Analysts expect Rivlin to refuse Olmert’s request, based on his past position.

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In February, Haaretz reported that Olmert – through his attorneys Ram Caspi, Eyal Rozovsky and Aaron Michaeli – had submitted a request to Rivlin to expunge his criminal record. Recently, Caspi also provided consulting services for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s defense team in his criminal cases.

The lawyers argued for leniency based on Olmert’s contribution to the state, mainly during his tenure as prime minister.

Yehuda Weinstein and Joseph Shapira, August 26, 2014Credit: Dror Sithakol.

Olmert was convicted of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust in the Investment Center and cash envelopes affairs along with accepting 60,000 shekels ($17,600) from businessman Shmuel Dechner. He served over 16 months out of his 27-month sentence in prison before being released early in 2017.

Olmert had previously asked Rivlin to expunge his criminal record in 2018. Sources familiar with the details of the affair told Haaretz that several people advocated for Olmert at the time, including a well-known international businessman. They asked Rivlin to consider Olmert’s situation and service as prime minister and pardon him. When Rivlin made it clear that he had no intention of expunging his record, Olmert withdrew his request. But a few months ago, Olmert renewed his request.

A meeting was held recently with Caspi, Weinstein, Shapira and former minister Matan Vilnai, in which they tried to convince Rivlin to expunge Olmert’s criminal record. One of Olmert’s representatives said during the meeting that Olmert had no intention of returning to political life and that his request was intended to remove the obstacles facing a person with a criminal record, such as serving on company boards, receiving visas and opening bank accounts.

Still, a number of politicians have said over the past year that they have heard Olmert say he is the only one who can beat Netanyahu in an election. Those same people added that Olmert made those comments as passing thoughts and not as a realistic plan.

Weinstein represented Olmert at the beginning of the criminal proceedings against him, but left to take up the attorney general’s post during Netanyahu’s second government.

The only official with the authority to expunge a criminal record or reduce the period of moral turpitude is the president, similar to his power to grant a pardon. The president is entitled to shorten the period during which restrictions apply as the result of a criminal conviction.

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