Former Israeli PM Olmert, 71, wins early
release from prison
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[June 29, 2017]
By Jeffrey Heller
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Former Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert, who is serving a 27-month prison term for
corruption, won parole on Thursday, one of his lawyers said.
Israel Radio reported that Olmert could be freed as early as Sunday
after a parole board decided to cut his sentence by a third, a common
practice in Israel for prisoners who have not committed violent crimes.
But the release might be delayed if prosecutors decide to file an
appeal, Shani Eluz, an attorney for Olmert, told reporters.
"He was very excited. He was very happy," Eli Zohar, another Olmert
attorney, said of the parole decision. "He hopes very much the
prosecution service will not ask to delay his release."
Olmert was found guilty in 2014 of accepting bribes from real estate
developers when he was Jerusalem's mayor, before his 2006-09 term as
prime minister and head of a centrist political party.
During his time as Israel's leader, he claimed significant progress in
talks with the Palestinians on securing a final peace deal, offering an
Israeli withdrawal from much of the occupied West Bank. But no agreement
A lawyer by profession, Olmert began his political career in the 1970s
as a right-wing lawmaker who targeted organized crime in Israel. As
prime minister, Olmert waged war against militants in Lebanon in 2006
and the Gaza Strip in 2008.
His original six-year sentence - the judge in the case said his
corruption offences were tantamount to "treason" - was cut to 18 months
on appeal, but another month was later tagged on over obstruction of
[to top of second column]
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert speaks to the media after
a hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem December 29, 2015.
REUTERS/Debbie Hill/Pool/File Photo
Olmert's term was ultimately lengthened to 27 months after he was
convicted in a separate case involving cash payments from a U.S.
Over the past several weeks, Olmert was again in the Israeli
headlines after police raided a publishing house over suspicions a
memoir he is writing contained security secrets that had not been
cleared by the country's military censor.
Olmert was taken to hospital last week, complaining of chest pains,
Israeli media reports said. He was returned to prison on Tuesday
after tests and treatment.
Any attempt at a political comeback seems unlikely. A court found
that his crimes entailed "moral turpitude", which under Israeli law
would preclude Olmert from running for public office for seven years
after his release, when he will be 78.
(Editing by Luke Baker and Ed Osmond)
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