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Ex-Israeli Leader Ehud Olmert Sentenced To 8 Months In Corruption Trial

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced Monday to eight months in prison for accepting illegal payments from a U.S. businessman.
Heidi Levine
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced Monday to eight months in prison for accepting illegal payments from a U.S. businessman.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who as recently as 2009 led his country, was sentenced Monday by a Jerusalem court to eight months in prison for unlawfully accepting money from a U.S. supporter.

As we reported in March when Olmert was convicted in the case:

"At issue are cash-stuffed envelopes that Olmert took from U.S. businessman Morris Talansky when he was mayor of Jerusalem (about $600,000) and a Cabinet minister (about $153,950). The decision by the Jerusalem District Court was based on testimony from a former aide to Olmert who turned state's witness. Olmert was convicted of fraud, breach of trust and illicitly receiving money."

Additionally, Olmert was given a suspended sentence of eight months and fined $25,000. His conviction in March overturned a ruling in 2012 that had acquitted the former prime minister. He faced up to five years in prison.

Last year, Olmert, who was prime minister from 2006 to 2009, was convicted on separate corruption charges involving a real estate deal and sentenced to six years in prison. NPR's Emily Harris tells our Newscast unit he is appealing both convictions to the Supreme Court. Emily adds:

"The scandals forced him to step down as prime minister in 2009, clearing the way for current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to win the post."

The Associated Press reports today's verdict was granted a 45-day stay, which means Olmert will avoid prison for now. The news service adds:

"A slew of character witnesses had vouched for Olmert, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Israeli Mossad chief Meir Dagan in written statements read aloud Monday. The verdict stated that it recognized Olmert's vast contributions to Israeli society and sentenced him to less than the prosecution had demanded. Still, it ruled that 'a black flag hovers over his conduct.' "

At the time of Olmert's resignation, Israel and the Palestinians were engaged in talks over the creation of a Palestinian states. Those talks are now moribund.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.
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