Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert leaves Tel Aviv District Court, May 13, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The state on Sunday requested that the Supreme Court add an additional six months on to former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s prison sentence relating to the Jerusalem corruption trial.
In May, the Jerusalem District Court sentenced Olmert to eight months in prison following his conviction in the Talansky Affair retrial, one of three affairs he was accused of in the Jerusalem corruption trial.
The Talansky Affair consisted of Olmert illegally receiving, using and concealing at least $153,950 (out of an alleged $600,000) funds in envelopes from New York businessman Morris Talansky in 1993 and 2002, with the case itself dating back to 2008.
The state’s request on Sunday was a partial response to Olmert’s Thursday appeal of his conviction and of the prison sentence to the Supreme Court.
If he goes to jail, Olmert will be the first prime minister in the country’s history to be locked behind bars.
The jail sentence was already his second, piling on to the massive defeat he received with a six-year sentence in the Holyland real-estate trial on an even more serious conviction for bribery by the Tel Aviv District Court, pushing his total potential jail time up to six years and eight months.
That conviction also has been appealed to the Supreme Court.
Essentially, the state’s legal brief on Sunday argued that now that Olmert had been convicted in the Talansky Affair, his sentence in the Investment Affair, another affair for which he was convicted in the Jerusalem corruption trial, should be stiffened.
In July 2012, the Jerusalem District Court acquitted Olmert in the original trial of the more serious Talansky Affair and acquitted him in the Rishon Tours Affair, but convicted him in the more minor Investment Affair.
The Rishon Tours Affair allegations had accused Olmert of double-billing organizations for reimbursements for international flights, while the Investment Affair related to the granting of favors in his capacity as a minister to his confidant Uri Messer despite a conflict of interest.
The state noted that the Jerusalem District Court sentenced Olmert to a mere six months’ community service following his Investment Affair conviction.
Further, the state pointed out that the court’s justification for this lenient sentence was that Olmert should not serve prison time since he seemingly unfairly lost his prime ministership due to the Talansky Affair, for which he was acquitted.
In contrast, noted the state, now that Olmert had been convicted in the Talansky Affair retrial, the basis for having given him a lenient sentence without prison time in the Investment Affair has evaporated and his new conviction should be an aggravating factor for stiffening his prison sentence by adding an additional six months.
The Talansky Affair retrial came out of the state’s appeal of Olmert’s July 2012 acquittal in the Supreme Court, with the Supreme Court sending the case back to the district court for a retrial in summer 2014.
The Supreme Court’s order for a retrial came after shocking new recordings of Olmert discussing the original trial with his top former aide of 30 years, Shula Zaken, emerged.
Zaken had refused to testify in the first trial, which also excluded a key journal of evidence of hers against Olmert from being presented and did not let on about the existence of the recordings until the appeal to the Supreme Court.
The state will likely still file a supplemental response to Olmert’s appeal responding to each specific point where Olmert’s lawyers attack his conviction.
In the course of the Supreme Court’s decisions on the Jerusalem corruption trial, Olmert may also face additional jail time if the court decides to reverse his Rishon Tours Affair acquittal, which the state appealed, but which was not retried.