Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was convicted Monday (30 March 2015) of accepting bribe from a US supporter in a retrial on corruption charges, the latest chapter in the downfall of a man who only years earlier hoped to lead the country to a historic peace agreement with the Palestinians.
The conviction could land Olmert five years in prison, in addition to a six-year prison sentence he received last year in a separate bribery conviction, all but ensuring the former premier won’t return to politics for many years to come, The Associated Press reported.
“His behavior constitutes a breach of trust which harms the public, harms morality, and harms the public’s trust, in how he behaved corruptly,” prosecutor Uri Korev said following the verdict.
Olmert’s lawyers said they would likely appeal the ruling by the Jerusalem District Court. A sentencing hearing is slated to take place in May.
Olmert has claimed he was on the brink of a historic agreement with the Palestinians when he was forced to resign in early 2009 amid corruption allegations. His departure cleared the way for hard-liner Benjamin Netanyahu’s election, and subsequent peace efforts have not succeeded.
Olmert was acquitted in 2012 of a series of charges that included accepting cash-stuffed envelopes from US businessman Morris Talansky when Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem and a Cabinet minister. Olmert was found to have received about $600,000 from Talansky during his term as mayor, and additional amounts in cash during his term as a Cabinet minister, but a court did not find evidence the cash had been used for unlawful personal reasons or illegal campaign financing.