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Former Israel PM begins prison sentence for bribery

[JURIST] Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert [Knesset profile] began his 19-month prison sentence on Monday following his attempts to appeal his conviction for bribery. Olmert was convicted [JURIST report] in 2014 for accepting several bribes for housing projects in Jerusalem during his term as mayor. While his original six-year sentence was postponed and later reduced by the Israeli Supreme Court, he was given a month extension [JURIST report] after the court denied his plea bargain for a concurrent obstruction of justice sentence. Before Olmert was transported to Maasiyahu Prison [official website], he stated in a video [BBC report] that he still denies his current charges. As Olmert serves his sentence, his lawyers must address his fraud and breach of trust sentence from last May regarding the USD $150,000 he received [NYT backgrounder] from American businessman Morris Talansky to pay election and personal expenses. His lawyers have appealed the matter [NYT report] and hope that Olmert may serve the sentence concurrently with his bribery sentence.

In July 2012 Olmert was acquitted [JURIST report] of two major counts of corruption but found guilty of a third lesser charge in the culmination of a three-year trial. In a 700-page ruling three senior judges of a Jerusalem court rejected the prosecution's key accusations that as a cabinet minister and Jerusalem's mayor before becoming prime minister Olmert received bribes from US businessman Moshe Talansky, and that Olmert defrauded Israeli charities by double-billing them for overseas fundraising trips, a charge popularly referred to as the Rishon Tours double-billing affair. Olmert was convicted of breach of trust for granting illegal favors to a long-time friend and business partner while serving as minister of industry, trade and labor between 2002 and 2007. In September 2012 the court sentenced [JURIST report] Olmert to a one-year suspended sentence and a fine of about USD $19,000 for the charge of breaching public trust.

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