A-G: Olmert can be blocked from politics even if Rivlin pardons him

Without Rivlin eliminating his criminal record, Olmert, 72, would need to wait almost another seven years before he would be eligible to run for office.

April 11, 2018 19:33
2 minute read.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit has alluded to blocking former prime minister Ehud Olmert from returning to public service even if he gets a pardon from President Reuven Rivlin.

“An ethical block from taking a public service position gets in the way even if the president of the state decides to grant a pardon,” Mandelblit said late Tuesday night at an Israel Bar Association event in Tel Aviv – clearly hinting at Olmert though not mentioning him by name.

Olmert served 16 months of a 27-month prison sentence for bribery, fraud and obstruction, leaving prison last July, but earlier this week filed a request with Rivlin to wipe his criminal record clean.

As in his earlier attempts to avoid jail time, Olmert cited his contributions to state security – highlighted last month when the state released classified details about the attack he authorized as prime minister on Syria’s nuclear program in 2007.

Rivlin previously nullified some conditions of Olmert’s early release put in place by the Parole Board, including one which would have barred him from leaving the country and another which would have required him to check in at a police station every two weeks.

But without Rivlin eliminating his criminal record, Olmert, 72, would need to wait almost another seven years before he would be eligible to run for office.

Mandelblit cited the precedent of Yoni Ginosar, who was blocked by the High Court of Justice from receiving an appointment as director- general of the Construction Ministry due to his role in 1984’s Bus 300 Affair – and that despite his having received a presidential pardon.

In any event, the chances of Rivlin agreeing to wipe Olmert’s record clean are low after he has already been sentenced to and served significant jail time.

The attorney-general also blasted Olmert’s recent criticism of law enforcement, saying that from someone who has been convicted and served jail time for bribery, “it would be better if these things were never said.”

Mandelblit was speaking at a conference honoring Economic Crimes Division Deputy Chief Prosecutor Meor Even Chen on his new book about bribery.

The conference featured a spirited debate about defining the contours of bribery versus legitimate lobbying between top defense lawyers and some of the state’s top prosecutors and police officials who are handling probes against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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