Olmert, other Holyland convicts to remain free during appeals
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Olmert, other Holyland convicts to remain free during appeals

Former PM, sentenced to six years in prison in May, was originally slated to begin serving out his sentence on September 1

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert strides into the courtroom at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on September 11, 2014 (photo credit: Emil Salman/Flash90)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert strides into the courtroom at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on September 11, 2014 (photo credit: Emil Salman/Flash90)

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert and seven others convicted in the Holyland affair will remain free men until the end of their appeals process, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

Olmert was sentenced on May 13, 2014, to six years in prison, a two-year suspended term, and a fine of NIS 1 million ($289,000) for his involvement in the graft scandal surrounding the construction of the Holyland residential complex.

The former prime minister was initially slated to report to prison on September 1. However, Supreme Court President Justice Asher Grunis delayed his sentence “until a ruling is made concerning the requests for postponement.”

Olmert is currently appealing his sentence.

The seven individuals convicted in the scandal alongside Olmert — Hillel Cherney, Avigdor Kelner, Meir Rabin, Uri Shitrit, Eliezer Simhayoff, Danny Dankner, and Uri Lupolianski — were also planning to appeal their convictions or have already begun to do so.

Olmert is also facing a retrial in a Jerusalem district court on charges of fraud, tax evasion and falsifying corporate records in what became known as the Talansky and Rishon Tours affairs, charges of which he was acquitted in 2012.

A bird's eye view of the Holyland complex, one of the first of Jerusalem's high-rise projects (photo credit: Nati Shochat/Flash 90)
A bird’s eye view of the Holyland complex, one of the first of Jerusalem’s high-rise projects (photo credit: Nati Shochat/Flash 90)

The Supreme Court ordered the retrial in August, saying it would allow new testimony from Olmert’s former assistant, Shula Zaken, including recordings of conversations between Olmert and Zaken, who provided the information last spring as part of a plea bargain. Zaken has already begun serving out the 11-month sentence handed down to her in May.

The Holyland affair is considered one of the worst corruption scandals in the country’s history. At the center of the case was the Holyland housing development, a hulking hilltop project that Jerusalem residents long suspected was tainted by corruption.

The case broke in 2010 after Shmuel Dachner, a businessman who was involved in the project, turned state’s witness. Dachner died from an illness in 2013, in the midst of the trial and before Olmert’s attorneys had completed their cross-examination of him.

Justin Jalil contributed to this report.

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