The sentencing of former prime minister Ehud Olmert to a six-year prison sentence in the Holyland corruption case on Tuesday sends a message that may help deter corruption in the future, Deputy Attorney General Shai Nitzan said Tuesday in a letter to attorneys in the state prosecution service.
The conviction is a source “neither of happiness nor pride,” Nitzan wrote, “but it does awaken in us the hope that this case will dramatically reduce the chances of similar crimes being committed in the future.”
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, with Judge David Rozen issuing a scathing rebuke of the former prime minister.
The graft crimes for which Olmert was convicted, said, were “among the worst in the criminal code.”
According to the court, businessman Shmuel Dachner, who would eventually turn state’s witness (and who passed away mid-trial in 2013, hours after a cross-examination session), gave Olmert’s debt-ridden brother Yossi Olmert post-dated checks for NIS 500,000 ($143,000) at Olmert’s behest. Dachner was representing real estate developer Hillel Charney, who was convicted of money laundering and bribing Olmert, his then-assistant (and future Jerusalem mayor) Uri Lupolianski, and others.
Calling the Holyland case “one of the largest corruption cases the police and [state] prosecution have ever had to handle,” Nitzan told state attorneys that “the indictment and conviction of such senior figures is no small achievement, and should not be taken for granted.”
“Not every country in the world has courts, investigative systems and an independent prosecution that can function without fear of anything but the law, even when dealing with the most senior, connected and powerful figures,” he added.
“The prosecution will continue to carry out its duty with consistency, determination and professionalism, and we won’t hesitate to deal with corruption with iron gloves, wherever it may be found, and without regard to the social standing of those involved,” he vowed.
Olmert will have 45 days to appeal the sentence, and the Supreme Court has yet to 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. Barring possible overturning or changes to the conviction or sentence by the Supreme Court, Olmert is slated to begin serving out his sentence on September 1.