Former Israel PM Olmert Let Off With Light Punishment

Harinder Mishra/Jerusalem
Former Israel PM Olmert Let Off With Light Punishment

Israel's former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was forced out of office by a series of graft charges, was let off with a light punishment carrying a suspended one-year jail term today, meaning the disgraced leader can now calculate a possible return to public life.

Olmert was handed a one year suspended sentence and fined about USD 19,000 by a Jerusalem court several months after he was found guilty of corruption.

The suspended sentence that means he will serve no jail term comes as a major relief for the 66-year-old leader.

Olmert was convicted in July of breach of trust for decisions he made while serving as Industry, Trade and Labour minister in the government led by Ariel Sharon.

Reading the 27-page ruling, Judge Mussiya Arad said Olmert was guilty of a "grave and absolute conflict of interest" and that the gravity of the case required "a practical response".

Olmert's attorneys have said that they do not plan to appeal the conviction.

Prosecutor Eli Abarbanel told reporters that his office was considering an appeal.

"This affair is not over... The sentencing considerations are complicated in this case, they are unusual. We shall examine this ruling studiously, not make off-the-cuff statements. We shall see if an appeal is justified or not," Eli said. The prosecution has the right to appeal the verdict within 45 days.

At a hearing earlier this month, the prosecution had requested that Olmert be given a sentence of six months of community service, as well as a fine and probation.

The court had ruled in July that Olmert had been improperly involved in allocations by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry's Investment Center to companies that were represented by attorney Uri Messer, a close personal friend and former business partner.

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