Israel’s Supreme Court [official website] on Tuesday reduced the prison sentence of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert [Knesset profile] from six years to 18 months. Olmert was convicted in March 2014 and sentenced [JURIST report] to six years imprisonment on several charges dealing with bribery. The ruling by the court overturned the main bribery charge but upheld [AP report] the lesser charge of taking a 60,000 shekel (USD $15,000) bribe. His sentence was postponed [JURIST report] pending the appeal of his conviction. Olmert was accused of accepting money to promote a real-estate project in Jerusalem when he was mayor and the country’s trade minister. He was forced to resign in 2009 amid the bribery charges, but has always denied any wrongdoing on his part. Olmert is scheduled to begin his reduced sentence on February 15.
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 $19,000 for the charge of breaching public trust.