Olmert briefly held at airport over old no-fly order
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Olmert briefly held at airport over old no-fly order

Authorities blame bureaucratic mixup for neglecting to cancel directive that had been part of Holyland conviction

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert leaves Ramle's Ma’asiyahu prison on July 2, 2017, following his release. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert leaves Ramle's Ma’asiyahu prison on July 2, 2017, following his release. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert was briefly prevented from boarding a plane at Ben Gurion Airport Tuesday due to an outstanding no-fly order related to the 2014 graft investigation for which he was convicted.

Olmert and his wife Aliza were on their way abroad for a family vacation when airport officials detained the former prime minister, who was released from prison earlier this month.

Olmert contacted his attorneys who intervened on the former prime minister’s behalf, having him on the plane roughly an hour later, Hebrew media reports said.

In what was deemed a “bureaucratic mistake,” authorities neglected to cancel the no-fly order that had been placed on Olmert as part of his conviction in the Holyland real estate corruption case. The directive had been nullified as part of the pardon he received from President Reuven Rivlin.

On July 4, Rivlin announced that he was removing all parole restrictions for Olmert following the latter’s release two days earlier from prison after serving 16 months for corruption.

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.

According to an Israel Prisons Service statute, prisoners who are granted early release 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.

Rivlin’s decision means that Olmert is free of all parole restrictions, but the statement from the president’s office stressed that “the clemency is dependent on Olmert not committing another crime until the end of his original sentence,” in May 2018.

Olmert was one of eight former officials and businessmen convicted in March 2014 in the Holyland affair, 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.

Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.

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