Israeli President Eases ex-PM Olmert’s Parole Restrictions

Two days after his early release from prison, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has his sentence commuted

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Ehud Olmert leaves prison on July 2, 2017.
Ehud Olmert leaves prison on July 2, 2017.Credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

President Reuven Rivlin announced on Tuesday that he would commute the sentence of recently released convict, ex-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, to time served in prison.

The move lifts Olmert’s parole restrictions, which included reporting regularly to the police, meeting with a social worker and refraining from travelling abroad.

“The president had said that in light of his [Olmert’s] many good deeds, should Olmert receive his request for release after serving two-thirds of his sentence, he would consider commuting his sentence to time served,” the president’s office announced in a statement.

Olmert was released from prison earlier this week after serving 16-and-a-half months of his 27-month sentence for fraud and bribery. His release followed a decision by the Israel Prison Service parole board to shorten his sentence by more than a third.After previously rejecting Olmert’s request for a pardon, Rivlin had said that if a request for early release was granted by the prison service, he would consider removing the restrictions on Olmert.  However, the commutation is not a full pass for Olmert.

The easing of parole conditions is contingent upon Olmert not committing any offenses or crimes during the remaining period of his original sentence.

The Prisoner Rehabilitation Authority designed a rehabilitation program for Olmert, which is to remain confidential. Olmert announced that he would continue conforming with two of the conditions set for this program. However, he will no longer be required to sign in with the police twice a month as originally ordered.

Olmert was convicted in 2014 of accepting bribes to promote a real-estate project in Jerusalem and obstructing justice. The charges pertained to a period when he was mayor of Jerusalem and trade minister before he became premier in 2006.

Sources at the President’s Residence were unable to say whether there had ever been a similar case of a released prisoner whose restrictions were lifted. Also unusual is the fact that the pardons department in the Justice Ministry did not convey its position on the matter of canceling the restrictions.

Olmert’s previous request for a pardon had been opposed by the pardons department. However, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked wrote Rivlin asking that he take into consideration Olmert’s great contribution to state security as prime minister, and that she was leaving the decision entirely up to him. Rivlin denied the pardon at the time, but said he would be willing to lift restrictions upon Olmert’s release. Immediately after his release, Olmert submitted his request to Rivlin, but this time, the pardons department said it did not need to state its position again.

Ex-President Moshe Katsav, who was released from prison in December after serving a sentence for sex crimes, also submitted a request to lift his parole restrictions, but Rivlin has not yet made a decision in that case.

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