Former prime minister Ehud Olmert's ongoing sentencing hearing, before Tel Aviv District Judge David Rozen, commenced Monday morning. The trial has been largely expected to last more than one day.
Following his conviction on serious bribery charges in the Holyland trial on March 31, Olmert is expected to pull out all the stops to try to convince the judge to have mercy on him regarding punishment, even as Rozen took an extremely harsh line in his conviction.
In contrast, the state is expected to seek either three, five or six years in prison, according to differing news reports.
There are reports that former Mossad head Meir Dagan will be testifying on the importance of Olmert’s contributions as prime minister, along with other witnesses called to try to soften the sentence.
At the same time, the prosecution is expected to present evidence alleging Olmert tried to block his former top aide, Shula Zaken, from cooperating with it.
In addition to that evidence, the prosecution, in a letter signed by State Attorney Shai Nitzan, on Sunday afternoon filed an extremely rare request with the Supreme Court to reopen the separate 2012 Jerusalem corruption trial against Olmert.
Amir Dan, Olmert’s spokesman, blasted the prosecution’s special request, saying that it was “unprecedented, with noncoincidental timing, whose full purpose it not to pursue justice or truth, but to whitewash their sins,” which he explained was the state’s plea bargain with Zaken that had itself been “born in sin.”
According to the request, the new evidence from Zaken includes statements by her and tapes she handed over of conversations with Olmert that could alter the verdict in the 2012 case to more serious convictions against Olmert.
Portions of this evidence were obtained in recent weeks when police questioned Olmert for three full days. The allegations may be used against him in a new indictment as well as in the state’s appeal of his acquittals from the 2012 Jerusalem corruption trial, currently awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision.
The prosecution said it would fully detail the evidence within approximately three weeks, but could not yet do so at this stage since the investigation is ongoing.
Still, the prosecution said it thought it important to immediately notify the court, since every part of the appeals process had already been concluded other than the Supreme Court’s decision.
In the Holyland trial, Olmert was among 13 other individual defendants (and additional corporate defendants), 10 of whom were convicted of various acts of bribery and fraud in the largest bribery scheme in the country’s history.
Olmert, former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski, former Bank Hapoalim chairman Dan Dankner and others were convicted of giving or receiving bribes in exchange for getting around zoning and legal obstacles relating to the Holyland project in south Jerusalem, as well as other projects.
Regardless of the sentencing, Olmert is expected to appeal the Holyland conviction.
In the 2012 Jerusalem corruption trial, Olmert was convicted of a minor charge of breach of public trust for failure to report certain conflicts of interest, but was acquitted in the more serious Rishon Tours and Talansky Affairs.
The request could eventually lead to potential convictions in the Rishon Tours and Talansky Affairs.
One major change if the evidence gets reheard by the Jerusalem District Court is that former court president Moussia Arad has retired and would likely be replaced.