Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked recommended that former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who is currently in prison for corruption related offenses, be pardoned, despite the opposition of the Justice Ministry.
In January, Olmert requested a pardon from President Reuben Rivlin, with his lawyers writing in a letter to the president that Olmert had “suffered enough” and that “the time has come to end the suffering of Ehud Olmert as an act of mercy.” Rivlin subsequently transferred the pardon request to the Justice Ministry for a legal opinion.
Despite the decision of the Justice Ministry to recommend against pardoning Olmert, Shaked offered the opposite view in a letter she wrote to Rivlin that cited the former prime minister’s contribution to Israel’s security while serving as prime minister from 2006 to 2009.
The Justice Ministry is said to be against granting Olmert a pardon due to what it views as the severity of the crimes for which he was convicted, the message that pardoning him would send about corruption among public servants, as well as the fact that he only served a little over a year, or less than half, of his 27-month sentence, the Hebrew-language Ynet news site reported earlier this month.
In June, Olmert will face a parole board that is expected to consider his request to be released early.
Olmert was one of eight former officials and businessmen convicted in March 2014 in the Holyland real estate corruption case, which officials have characterized as among the largest graft cases in Israel’s history.
He was sentenced in 2014 to six years in prison over two separate charges of taking bribes in the early 2000s, when he served as mayor of the capital. That sentence was reduced to 18 months after the Supreme Court overturned one of his convictions on appeal.
He began serving his sentence at Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle in February 2016.
In September, Olmert was sentenced to an additional eight months behind bars for the so-called Talansky affair. In that case, a court upheld a 2015 conviction over his accepting envelopes full of cash from American businessman and fundraiser Morris Talansky in exchange for political favors during his decade-long term as mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003.
In July, after rejecting his two previous requests for leave, the Israel Prisons Service determined that Olmert, who had completed the first third of his sentence, was eligible for a brief furlough.
The Prisons Service refitted a wing in the Ramle prison to house the former prime minister, keeping him in a separate complex shared only by carefully screened fellow convicts.
In February, Olmert was denied any prison furloughs for six weeks as a punishment after an altercation with a guard.
According to an Army Radio report at the time, Olmert had tried to intervene when guards punished another prisoner incarcerated in a cell near his.