Ehud Olmert, former prime minister of Israel and subject of a portrait painted by George W. Bush, reported to Maasiyahu Prison on Monday to serve his 19-month sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice.
Olmert, 70, retired from office in 2008, just two years after his election, amid police investigations into accusations of corruption. He was convicted in 2014 of taking bribes while mayor of Jerusalem. From the New York Times:
In late December, the Israeli Supreme Court reduced his six-year prison sentence to 18 months after overturning the main part of his conviction on bribery charges. It upheld, however, his conviction in a lesser bribery case that was unrelated to the housing project.
Last week, a Jerusalem magistrate’s court extended Mr. Olmert’s sentence by a month after rejecting the terms of a plea bargain in an obstruction-of-justice case.
Mr. Olmert was also sentenced in May to eight months in prison for fraud and breach of trust, in a separate case involving an American businessman, Morris Talansky. The start of that term was postponed pending an appeal, and Mr. Olmert’s lawyers have been examining the possibility of any sentence being served concurrently with Mr. Olmert’s current prison term.
His office released a video statement on Monday, in which Olmert described his fall from grace as “painful and strange.” He admitted that he had “made mistakes” but maintained that he had not done anything criminally wrong.
“At this time, I want to say again what I said inside the court and outside: that I categorically deny the charges relating to bribery attributed to me,” Olmert said. “I accept the sentence with a very heavy heart. Nobody stands above the law.”