Israeli Prosecutors Likely to Demand Jail Time for Ehud Olmert

Tomer Zarchin
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Tomer Zarchin

The State Prosecutor’s Office is expected to demand that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert be convicted on aggravated felony counts, of a severity that would temporarily or permanently disqualify him from any future public service, and that he serve time behind bars in prison.

Prosecutors have yet to decide about the length of the prison sentence they will demand. A possibility is a demand that Olmert serve up to six months behind bars and then undertake community service.

Some legal sources indicated Wednesday that prosecutors are likely to demand a prison term without citing a specific length of time, leaving it to the court to determine the length of the sentence.

State prosecutors will work out their final demands next week. Court hearings about sentencing will start on September 5, after the current summer court recess.

It bears mention that courts in Israel have never in the past sentenced offenders of breach of public trust crimes to actual prison time. In the tax authority case in which Olmert’s former office manager Shula Zaken faced breach of trust charges, prosecutors demanded actual prison time. The court, however, refused to send Zaken to prison in this case.

Last month Olmert was acquitted of indictments in two major affairs, the Rishon Tours and Talansky cases. The former prime minister was also cleared of wrongdoing in dealings with the State Comptroller’s Office.

Yet he was convicted in another affair involving the Investment Center, which came on breach of trust counts. (The indictment accused Olmert of more serious wrongdoings, including fraud and bribe-taking.)

Though prosecutors have yet to finalize demands regarding this breach of trust conviction, they clearly do not regard it as a mere misdemeanor, and are expected to forward demands whose acceptance by the court would effectively bring the former prime minister’s political career to a close.

Former Prime Minister Ehud OlmertCredit: Michal Fattal