Moral turpitude for Olmert on hold indefinitely

State says since Olmert doesn't seek return to public office, it won't raise issue during hearing on Investment Center affair.

Olmert, Zaken 370 (photo credit: Pool / Olivia Fitosi)
Olmert, Zaken 370
(photo credit: Pool / Olivia Fitosi)
The state attorney on Wednesday decided not to seek a court classification of moral turpitude for Olmert's conviction in the Investment Center affair, since the former prime minister does not intend to return to public office.
A decision to classify Olmert's conviction as moral turpitude would effectively end his political career, barring him from public office for seven years, as well as stripping him of benefits afforded former prime ministers, including an office, staff, phone, car, driver and related expenses.
The state stressed that it continues to believe that Olmert's actions in the affair were deserving of moral turpitude. However, as long as Olmert does not intend to return to public office, it will postpone this aspect of the hearing.
Olmert was acquitted by the Jerusalem District Court of a list of the most serious charges against him in July, but was convicted of violating the public trust in the Investment Center affair. The main reason the initially state gave for seeking moral turpitude was that Olmert violated conflict of interest principles on an unprecedented level.
The conviction in the Investment Center affair is based on claims that Olmert – then industry, trade and labor minister – granted favors to Uri Messer which were illegal and violated conflict of interest principles. Messer was Olmert’s longtime friend and former partner who applied to the Investment Center for state grants and other benefits.
During the hearing, former head of the Jerusalem district Attorney's Office Eli Abarbanel, said that though Olmert should get jail time, he would only seek six months of community service. The state attributed this leniency to the fact that this was the first time a prime minister has fallen from public office due to criminal allegations, which in itself constitutes a big punishment. The attorney maintained that Olmert's actions were very grave violations of the public trust, even if the state did not lose money in the end.