Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert entered prison at 10 am Monday morning to become the first Israeli head of state to serve a jail term.
He is to stay in a special wing at the Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle, with extra security to protect him at all times outside his cell.
Only specially screened inmates are allowed in his wing, and the wing itself has a separate area for eating, medical and other activities, apart from the majority of other inmates. These measures are not only designed to protect Olmert – they are also meant to ensure that no prisoner will be able to extract information from the former head of state.
Olmert’s sentence is set for a minimum of 18 months but could run as long as 27 months, depending on the outcome of current appeals.
Olmert released a video statement to the media earlier Monday professing his innocence. In his statement Olmert again denied his guilt after being convicted of bribery and graft.
“At this hour it is important for me to say once again that I am innocent of charges that I took bribes. None of the charges stemmed from the time during which I served as prime minister,” Olmert said in the clip.
On the one hand, he called the prison sentence “an unusual, serious event that shows the strength of Israeli democracy.”
But he said his particular case “snowballed for reasons that were not related to legal considerations,” as if to accuse the judicial system of being guilty of political corruption instead.
He did, however, grudgingly admit to “making mistakes,” albeit “not of a criminal nature.”Hana Levi Julian