The Jerusalem PostWill Ehud Olmert be sentenced to a long prison term for his bribery conviction?
By NATI GABBAY, DANIEL CLINTON
Legal experts agree that the state is likely to seek several years in prison for Olmert following his conviction in the Holyland affair; the fact that he has served in high government positions may work against him.
With Ehud Olmert having been convicted Monday of bribery in the Holyland trial, attention will now turn to whether or not the former prime minister will serve time in prison for his crimes, and if so, how much time.
Judge David Rozen said at the conclusion of the reading of the verdict against Olmert and nine others in the Holyland trial in Tel Aviv District Court on Monday that sentencing arguments in the case would begin in less than a month on April 28.
The likely maximum sentence for bribery as it pertains to Olmert in the Holyland case is seven years. The maximum sentence for bribery has been changed to ten years in recent years, however, it was seven years at the time the crime was committed. Legal precedent suggests that the state will take into account the maximum sentence at the time the crime was committed.
Professor Emanuel Gross, a legal expert at Haifa University, said that he expected the state would seek a long prison sentence for Olmert, which is standard for those convicted of bribery.
Gross surmised that the state would seek a long sentence in relation to the maximum allowed for bribery given that this is one of the most serious crimes that someone has been convicted of while in public service. He said that the fact that Olmert took bribes while he was the mayor of Jerusalem and a minister - and later became prime minister - was likely to lead the state to seek a harsher sentence.
"You expect these people to exemplify integrity, and if, of all people, our leaders are corrupt, then the fitting punishment is several years in prison," Gross said.
Gross compared Olmert's case to those of Arye Deri and Shlomo Benizri, both ministers convicted of bribery who were sentenced to three and four years in prison respectively.
"[Olmert] is a much more senior figure. It is reasonable that the state would request punishment for him that is, at the least, equal, if not more severe."
Senior Israeli defense attorney Yair Golan said that judging on the severity of Monday's verdict, it was clear that the state would seek a relatively long prison sentence - especially given the high profile of the Holyland affair and the large sums of money involved in the bribes.
* * *Read more ...