Former Israeli PM Olmert released early from jail

Former Israeli PM Olmert released early from jail
2 min read
29 June, 2017
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert - who is serving a 27-month prison term on corruption charges - won early release on Thursday, according to his lawyers.
Olmert was serving 27-month prison term on corruption charges. [Getty]

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is serving a 27-month prison term on corruption charges, won early release on Thursday, according to his lawyers.

Olmert could be freed as early as Sunday after a parole board cut his sentence by a third, Israel Radio reported, a common practice in the country for non-violent crimes.

His release might still be delayed, however, if prosecutors decide to file an appeal.

Olmert was found guilty in 2014 for accepting bribes from real estate developers when he served as Jerusalem's mayor.

His original six-year sentence was initially reduced to 18 months on appeal but lengthened again after being convicted of accepting cash payments from a US businessman.

He was previously prime minister and leader of the centrist Kadima political party.

"He was very excited. He was very happy," Eli Zohar, one of Olmert's attorney, said of the decision, according to Reuters.

"He hopes very much the prosecution service will not ask to delay his release."

Olmert, a lawyer by profession, began his political career as a right-wing minister targeting organised crime.

As a centrist prime minister, he launched a 2006 war against Hizballah in Lebanon which led to the deaths of more than 1,200 Lebanese civilians and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

The military operation was considered a political and military failure in Israel.

In 2008, he then launched Operation Cast Lead on the Gaza Strip, a 22-day military offensive which killed over 1,400 Palestinians and devastated the coastal enclave.

In recent weeks, Olmert has made headlines in Israel after police raided a publishing house over claims a memoir he is writing contained security information not cleared by Israel's military censor.

Olmert won international acclaim for relaunching peace efforts with the Palestinians at the Annapolis conference in the US in 2007, but they failed to bear fruit and the corruption charges against him have come to define his legacy.

His conviction excludes him from running for public office for seven years after his release.

Agencies contributed to this report.