Israel's ex-premier Ehud Olmert to go to jail for 19 months

Israel's ex-premier Ehud Olmert will serve an extra month in jail in addition to an 18-month prison sentence he had already received in December, a Jerusalem court ruled Wednesday.

In addition to December's sentence for bribe-taking, the 70-year-old signed a plea bargain admitting to two counts of obstruction of justice.

Under the deal, he accepted an additional six months of jail time and a fine of 50,000 shekels (13,000 US dollars), but asked that he serve the six months only symbolically, as a part of the 18 months he is to serve already for the bribe-taking.

The court last week accepted the plea bargain and convicted him under it, but on Wednesday said it would allow Olmert to serve only five months as part of his first custodial sentence.

The remaining 30 days he will have to serve in addition, it said.

He is scheduled to go to jail on February 15, becoming the first former Israeli premier to be behind bars.

The country's supreme court in December upheld one count of bribe-taking in a real-estate scandal when he was mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003.

Jerusalem's Magistrates Court said in a statement Wednesday that Olmert had tried to convince his former secretary, Shula Zaken, not to testify and not to sign a plea bargain in another major corruption case.

Zaken, at first loyal to him, initially agreed, but later turned into a state witness and produced tape recordings, which revealed Olmert's attempts to persuade her not to go along with the prosecutors.

Olmert was premier between 2006 and 2009.

But his career was cut short by a string of corruption allegations, which supporters charge were brought to the surface by hardliners who opposed his far-reaching peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Critics say that he is one of many politicians who gave preference to his own interests over those of the public.

Last update: Wed, 10/02/2016 - 22:34

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