Israeli Prosecutors Do Not Seek Jail Time for Olmert

Ask court to sentence former prime minister to six months of community service for role in Investment Center affair.

Prosecutors on Wednesday asked for former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to be sentenced to six months of community service - confounding many pundits' expectations that they would ask the court to impose actual jail time.

Prosecutors also sought a fine and a suspended sentence at Jerusalem District Court. They requested an identical sentence for Shula Zaken, Olmert's former office manager, who was convicted along with him.

Olmert himself asked the court to spare him any sentence, saying he had already suffered enough during his investigation and trial for three different corruption cases - especially given that he was acquitted in two of the three.

"With what tools," he asked, "can you measure the pain of having your granddaughter or grandson tell you, 'Grandpa, you didn't do bad things like they told me at kindergarten, right?'"

The court will sentence Olmert on September 24.

Prosecutors did not ask the court to declare that the former prime minister's offense involved moral turpitude. On Tuesday, Olmert voluntarily waived all his benefits as a former prime minister, which include a car, driver and secretary. The prosecution agreed that made the turpitude issue irrelevant, since the only impact of a finding of moral turpitude would have been to deprive him of those benefits.

Moral turpitude can also bar someone from running for office, but only when combined with jail time - and, in any case, Olmert isn't currently running for anything.

Olmert was convicted of breach of trust for decisions made while serving as industry, trade and labor minister. The court found that he was improperly involved in allocations made by the ministry's Investment Center to companies represented by attorney Uri Messer, who was both a close personal friend and manager of Olmert's private stash of cash from donors.

At the same time, the court acquitted him of two more serious charges: double billing various nonprofits for flights abroad (known as the Rishon Tours case, after the name of the travel agency involved ), and illegally taking money from American-Jewish businessman Morris Talansky.

Olmert is currently standing trial in the Tel Aviv District Court on a fourth corruption case, known as the Holyland affair.