President lifts parole restrictions on newly freed Olmert
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President lifts parole restrictions on newly freed Olmert

Decision removes Prison Service check-ins, limits on foreign travel but not ‘moral turpitude’ designation that will ban him from office for 7 years

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Then-prime minister Ehud Olmert speaks during the appointment of Reuven Rivlin as Knesset speaker, March 30, 2009. (Kobi Gideon/Flash 90)
Then-prime minister Ehud Olmert speaks during the appointment of Reuven Rivlin as Knesset speaker, March 30, 2009. (Kobi Gideon/Flash 90)

President Reuven Rivlin announced Tuesday that he was removing all parole restrictions for former prime minister Ehud Olmert following the latter’s release two days ago from prison after serving 16 months for corruption.

The president’s office said in a statement that Rivlin would “restrict Olmert’s punishment to the time he served in prison,” accepting a request filed by the ex-premier’s lawyers just hours after his release.

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 last 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.

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert leaves Ramle's Ma’asiyahu prison on July 2, 2017, following his release. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert leaves Ramle’s Ma’asiyahu prison on July 2, 2017, following his release. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)

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.

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert seen at the Jerusalem District Court for a sentencing hearing, a month after the court found Olmert guilty of fraud and breach of trust in the Talansky affair. May 05, 2015. (Emil Salman/Pool/Flash90)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert seen at the Jerusalem District Court for a sentencing hearing, a month after the court found Olmert guilty of fraud and breach of trust in the Talansky affair. May 05, 2015. (Emil Salman/Pool/Flash90)

Tuesday’s decision means that Olmert is be 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.

A spokesperson for the president also noted that decision was not a full pardon, meaning that it does not remove the “moral turpitude” designation that accompanied the conviction and sentencing, a classification that prevents Olmert from returning to political office for seven years from his release.

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.

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