Following his early-morning release from prison after serving 16 months on corruption charges, former prime minister Ehud Olmert submitted a request to President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday to have his parole restrictions removed entirely.
The president’s office confirmed receiving a request from Olmert and said it was “being handled by the relevant authorities.” The request seeks to “limit the restrictions of his sentence to the period of his imprisonment served,” a statement said.
The 71-year-old Olmert, premier between 2006 and 2009, was convicted of graft and entered prison in February 2016. He had been sentenced to 27 months.
The parole board on Thursday ruled in favor of early release for Olmert for good behavior. The State Attorney’s Office later on Thursday said it would not appeal the decision, paving the way for the former prime minister’s release.
According to Israel Prisons Service statute, when a prisoner is granted early release, they are required to meet a series of conditions until the completion of their prescribed sentence. These include a prohibition on leaving the country, required reporting to a parole officer at a police station twice a week and meeting weekly with a Prisons Service social worker.
Prisoners who fail to meet the conditions risk being sent back to prison to complete their original sentence. In Olmert’s case, these restrictions are currently set to remain in place until May 2018.
A spokesperson for the president noted that the request did not specifically ask for the restrictions to be removed or commuted by Rivlin but rather that they be limited to the time Olmert served in prison. In practice, this would mean Olmert would no longer be bound by any parole restrictions.
Olmert’s attorney Eli Zohar told The Times of Israel that if granted, the request would not remove the “moral turpitude” designation that accompanied the conviction and sentencing, a designation that prevents Olmert from returning to political office for seven years from his release. That could only be mitigated by a full presidential pardon.
Zohar would not comment on whether Olmert planned to make such a request.
Olmert was one of eight former officials and businessmen convicted in March 2014 in the Holyland real estate corruption case, which has been characterized as among the largest graft cases in Israel’s history.
In September 2016, he was sentenced to an additional eight months behind bars for the so-called Talansky affair, bringing the total to 27. 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 from 1993 to 2003.
Olmert’s chances for early release were complicated over the last few weeks as he was accused of divulging sensitive information in memoirs he is writing and of sneaking a transcript out of prison. The prosecution had previously said the book Olmert is writing contains “sensitive security issues” and that his lawyer was caught leaving the prison with a chapter on “secret operations” not approved by the censor for publication.
Olmert has denied doing anything wrong.
AFP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.
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