Jailed Former PM Ehud Olmert Requests Pardon From President

Olmert, who started serving his sentence a year ago, was sentenced to 19 months imprisonment for corruption in 2014, with an additional eight months added by the Supreme Court last year.

Ehud Olmert.
Olivier Fitoussi

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is currently serving a 27-month prison sentence for corruption, has requested a pardon from President Reuven Rivlin.

The president's office announced on Tuesday that a request for pardon had been received and was being processed.

"The request is being deal with by the relevant authorities," the office said in a statement. "Like all such appeals, it has been transferred to the Justice Ministry for its opinion."

Olmert became the first former prime minister to serve a prison sentence in Israel when he entered Ma’asiyahu Prison on February 15, 2016 to begin serving his sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice.

The charges arose from the infamous Holyland corruption case, in which he was convicted of taking bribes from a real estate developer while serving as mayor of Jerusalem between 1992 and 2003.

He resigned as prime minister in March 2009, in the shadow of police corruption investigations.

Olmert was indicted in the Jerusalem District Court in August 2009 on five criminal counts: fraud under aggravating circumstances, fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate documents, and tax evasion.

The indictment referred to three out of the four corruption cases to which he had been connected – the so-called "Rishon Tours" affair, the "Talansky" affair and the "Investment Center" case.

He was convicted on one count of breach of trust and acquitted on two fraud counts in July 2012. Subsequently, in March 2014, he was convicted of bribery and sentenced to six years' imprisonment, though the Supreme Court ruled that he could stay out of jail, pending appeal.

His jail term was reduced by the Supreme Court to 18 months in December 2015, after the main charge was overturned, with an additional one month added to the sentence for obstruction of justice.

In September last year, the Supreme Court rejected his appeal and added eight more months to his sentence.

In a video statement released before he entered prison, Olmert maintained that he was innocent of bribery, but said that he accepted the verdict with "a very heavy heart."

"Today I am a former prime minister who stands to serve a prison sentence," he said. "This is an unusual and grave development, which some will see as confirmation of the Israeli democracy's might. But in the same breath I would like to raise the possibility that the legal case against me snowballed due to non-judicial reasons."

He also expressed regret that his term as prime minister had ended in the shadow of a police investigation.