State to close illegal appointments case against Olmert

State to close illegal appointments case against Olmert

Prosecutors reportedly won't seek jail term for former PM in Tuesday's breach of trust conviction

Olmert entering court on Tuesday. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Olmert entering court on Tuesday. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The State Attorney’s Office is not going to seek a jail sentence for Ehud Olmert in his conviction for breach of trust, and is also set to close another case against the former prime minister for lack of public interest.

The Jerusalem District Court acquitted Olmert of two major charges Tuesday morning, and convicted him of a lesser charge — breach of trust in the so-called Investments Center case, when he was industry minister. Sentencing in that case was set for September, and prosecutors will not seek a jail term, Israel Radio reported on Wednesday morning, in part because there are no precedents for prison terms to be handed down for similar offenses.

Prosecutors are also set to close an ongoing case in which Olmert has not yet been charged, over alleged illegal appointments of political cronies, when he held a series of ministerial positions including industry minister and communications minister. Olmert and a colleague, former cabinet secretary Ovad Yehezkel, are alleged to have secured appointments for dozens of Likud Central Committee members to companies including Bezeq and the Israel Lands Authority, in order to bolster Olmert’s political standing. That case is now likely to be closed, the radio report said.

State Attorney Moshe Lador on Tuesday night described the breach of trust conviction as a “grave” one, indicative of “patently unacceptable” conduct of the former prime minister during his term in office. If Olmert is not jailed for it, this would clear one more obstacle for the former prime minister from his route to a possible political comeback. A politician jailed for three months or more for a conviction that involves what the judges rule an instance of “moral turpitude” is barred from political office for seven years.

Olmert is still on trial over alleged bribery in the Holyland real estate affair. State prosecutors are reexamining aspects of their handling of that case, which is set to run for several more months, in the wake of Tuesday’s verdict acquitting Olmert in two serious cases against him — in which he was cleared of double billing for trips abroad and of illegally taking money from a US Jewish businessman, Morris Talansky.

State prosecutors have made no definitive comments about an appeal in either of those two cases, with prosecutor Uri Korev saying Tuesday night that he and his colleagues were first studying the verdict in depth.

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