Former prime minister Ehud Olmert will likely be sentenced to several years in prison at a hearing Tuesday, though the courts may keep him out of prison while he appeals the case.
The highly anticipated hearing at Tel Aviv District Court comes over a month after Olmert was convicted on multiple bribery charges stemming from his involvement as mayor of Jerusalem in a massive graft scandal surrounding the development of the city’s Holyland hilltop residential complex.
Nine other officials were also convicted in the scandal, and most of them will also be sentenced Tuesday.
If Judge David Rozen sends Olmert to prison, as he is expected to do, Olmert will become the first former prime minister to serve jail time since the state’s founding.
At the hearing, Rozen is expected to set a date for him to begin his term, but Olmert will have 45 days to appeal the sentence. The Supreme Court will later rule on whether he would be jailed during the appeals process or allowed to remain out of prison while the appeal proceeds.
A special team is already being set up, however, to handle the unprecedented situation of sending a former prime minister to prison.
The state prosecution, represented by prosecuting attorney Yehonatan Tadmor, asked in April for severe punishments for those convicted in the case, recommending a six-year sentence and NIS 1.3 million (some $370,000) in fines for the former prime minister.
“The punishment in the Holyland case must reverberate far and wide, fit the severity of the deeds, warn and deter,” Tadmor told the court.
Olmert said that he would appeal his case to the Supreme Court, which he said he believed “will try to see the full picture and reach the conclusion that I voiced earlier: that I never requested and never received bribes.”
Olmert’s attorney requested on behalf of his client that Judge Rozen refrain from sentencing Olmert to jail time, arguing that similar bribery cases resulted in a maximum of 18 months of incarceration.
Channel 10 reported Monday that the prosecution will oppose Olmert staying out of prison throughout the appeals process
The corruption unveiled in the case “is unique in its severity and in its effect on the State of Israel, in the scale of the corruption, the financial amounts involved in the bribes, the identities of the bribers and the bribe-takers, and in the massive [real estate] projects that were involved,” Tadmor said last month.
Indeed, the prosecution spent much of its time arguing for severe sentences. “We must not get used to the nearly unfathomable amounts [of money] that were given to senior businessmen and public servants,” he said.