State finalizes appeal of Olmert acquittal

If appeal to Supreme Court is successful, former PM could face jail time; appeal doesn't prevent Olmert from running for office.

By
May 13, 2013 15:11
2 minute read.
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert.

Olmert looking concerned 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post )

The State Attorney’s Office on Monday filed a finalized Supreme Court appeal against the acquittals and light sentence of former prime minister Ehud Olmert, possibly putting his highly speculated political future into jeopardy.

The state filed its initial request to appeal on November 7, 2012, but the current submission was a fully updated and final statement of its arguments on the issue – due to be heard in July.

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If the state wins at the Supreme Court level, Olmert could be convicted of harsher crimes than he was at trial, and could even end up going to jail.

That said, the appeal in and of itself does not legally prevent Olmert from running in elections, though it clouds his political fortunes and future in the event of additional convictions.

The decision could have tremendous repercussions on the future political makeup in the country.

In some sectors, Olmert is still viewed as one of the few potential candidates, along with Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who could at least challenge Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in an election.

Olmert’s public relations team released a response, saying “the appeal is not based on anything except the desire of the officials of the prosecution for vengeance and for chasing down Olmert.”

The statement accused the state of “arbitrariness,” of “harming Olmert and his family” and of “removing a prime minister [from office] for no reason.”

The appeal attacks Olmert’s acquittals on most of the main charges in both the Rishon Tours and Talansky affairs. The appeal also asks to overturn Olmert’s acquittal on charges that he misled the state comptroller regarding funds he received as part of the Talansky Affair.

Olmert was convicted in the Jerusalem District Court only of the minor crime of breach of trust in the Investment Center Affair, last July.

The last part of the appeal asks to give Olmert a harsher sentence for this conviction.

The Jerusalem District Court did not give Olmert any community service as requested by the state, but only sentenced him to a conditional sentence, plus a NIS 75,000 fine.

Regarding the Rishon Tours Affair, the state said the lower court had agreed with almost all of the state’s factual findings.

The state said there could be no reasonable doubt that Olmert knowingly committed fraud, in light of the fact that the affair involved more than $90,000 in double-bookings of plane flights by his staff on his behalf, and that he had been deeply involved in the working of his staff and in written correspondence to those nonprofit institutions paying for his flights.

In essence, the state said that in all of the affairs, the lower court had held it to an even higher and impossible standard than beyond a reasonable doubt in its conclusions about the evidence, particularly since the court found the state’s summation of the facts more convincing than Olmert’s.


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