Following Olmert sentence, Prison Service challenged with protecting a convict former PM

Prison officials say that as a former prime minister, Olmert was for years privy to state secrets of the highest confidentiality and his safety in jail must be assured in coordination with the Shin Bet.

Olmert in court on day of sentencing, May 13 (photo credit: POOL)
Olmert in court on day of sentencing, May 13
(photo credit: POOL)
The Prisons Service is working to determine the conditions of former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s prison sentence, with the full knowledge that there is no precedent in Israel for imprisoning a man like him.
Commissioner Aharon Franco said the service has held discussions in recent weeks on the matter, ever since the likelihood that Olmert would do time became apparent.
“We are speaking with all of the relevant bodies in order to come up with the best possible way to do this safely,” Franco said on Tuesday. “This is an exceptional case.”
He said that like all incoming convicts, Olmert will go through an intake exam when he reports to the penitentiary.
During the exam, authorities will check the relevant threats, including the chances he could be a threat to himself or other inmates, whether he is an escape risk and the particular privacy needs he has.
Prison officials said that not only would there be a privacy concern but also one of security – as a former prime minister he was for years privy to state secrets, and his safety must be assured in coordination with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). His previous responsibilities in the role of prime minister gives him a special status, as opposed to jailed former president Moshe Katsav, who held a more ceremonial role.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch , whose ministry is responsible for the Prisons Service, said on Tuesday that “I have had talks with the IPS [Israel Prisons Service] and they know how to deal with this.” He added that the Shin Bet will be involved in handling Olmert’s incarceration and has offered whatever help is needed.
He said that his ministry will continue to enforce the law against public corruption.
“This is a sad day for the country and the society and the people of Israel,” Aharonovitch said.