Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/POOL
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced on Wednesday to an additional month in prison for disrupting court proceedings, over his existing sentence of 18 months for bribery. He will now serve at least 19 months.

Olmert, who served as prime minister between 2006 and 2009, will enter the Maasiyahu minimum-security Prison near Ramla next Monday. The exact duration of his prison term is still to be decided, as the courts have yet to rule on a number of appeals on several additional charges of fraud, bribery, tax evasion, and breach of trust.

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The Wednesday charge centered on recordings provided by Olmert’s former chief of staff, Shula Zaken, in which Olmert can be heard trying to dissuade her from testifying against him.

The Jerusalem Magistrates Court rejected a suggested plea bargain between Olmert and the state prosecutor. According to the bargain, Olmert was to admit to disrupting court proceedings and to receive a concurrent sentence of six months, meaning that the length of his actual prison term would have remained 18 months. But the judge harshly criticized the plea bargain.

“I am not convinced I should allow the plea bargain; it is extremely unreasonable,” said Judge Avital Chen in his ruling. “Practically speaking it means there’s no element of punishment here and I cannot agree to that.”

Judge Chen ruled that only five of the additional six months in prison would be concurrent with the existing sentence, thereby adding one month to Olmert’s prison term. He also fined Olmert NIS 50,000 (roughly $12,500) and added a suspended sentence of four months if he repeats the same offense within three years of his release.

Last December, Israel’s Supreme Court reduced Olmert’s sentence to a year and a half from six years for bribery.

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