Following the sentencing of former prime minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday to six years in prison, the Israel Prison Services geared up for the unique logistical difficulties of housing and protecting an inmate with unique knowledge of state secrets.
While Olmert is expected to appeal his sentence, the prisons have nonetheless begun preparations before his term is set to begin in September.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said Olmert’s special circumstances will force the prisons to adapt their existing procedures.
“This is someone who knew a lot and still knows a lot, and therefore we must prepare properly. His knowledge and position require different arrangements,” Aharonovitch said.
The Shin Bet security service will also take part in making security plans for Olmert, who will be the first former prime minister to be jailed in Israel.
Olmert will most likely not be held in solitary confinement, and therefore the security arrangements also entail the selection of prisoners to be held alongside him without compromising his safety. According to Israel Hayom, the possibility of creating a separate wing for all the prisoners in the Holyland graft case has not been ruled out.
There is a chance as well that Olmert will be housed in a wing of Maasiyahu prison in Ramle, not far from the cell where former president Moshe Katsav is serving out a seven year sentence, according to a Channel 2 report.
Prisons Service head Aharon Franco said Olmert’s case was “unusual,” and poses new challenges for the Israeli prisons. Regardless, Olmert would be subject to all of the general assessments including an evaluation of his risk of self-harm or escape.
“We will analyze his personality, we will sit with our professionals and the relevant officials,” Franco said.
Olmert was sentenced to six years in prison, a two-year suspended term, and a fine of NIS 1 million ($289,000) in the Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday.
He will have 45 days to appeal the sentence, and the Supreme Court will rule on whether he will be jailed during the appeal process. If he loses his appeal, Olmert will become the first former prime minister to serve jail time since the state’s founding. As things stand, he is slated to begin serving out his sentence on September 1.
Yifa Yaakov contributed to this report.