It took a lot longer than it should have, but Israel former PM Ehud Olmert is finally going to jail.
He was convicted of accepting bribes and perjury in connection with the Holyland building project in Jerusalem. They were able to convict him because his former assistant, Shula Zaken decided to accept a plea bargain with limited jail time and sing like a bird in exchange for her testimony against her former boss, who was always as dirty as they come.She was found guilty of accepting a bribe of 100,000 shekels (almost $29,000).
What Olmert did was to accept and pay out bribes in connection with the development of a massive Jerusalem construction project promoted while Olmert was mayor of the city over 10 years ago.
According to the decision, the state’s witness, Shmuel Dachner, (now deceased) gave Olmert’s brother Yossi post-dated checks for NIS 500,000 ($143,000) at Olmert’s behest. Dachner was representing real estate developer Hillel Charney, who was convicted on Monday of money laundering and bribing Olmert, his then-assistant and future Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski, and a number of others.
Judge David Rosen of the Tel Aviv District Court talked about “corrupt and filthy practices,” while reading out the verdict, his statements repeated in headlines throughout Israeli media.
In his decision he wrote, “Hundreds of thousands of shekels were transferred to public leaders. The dirty money was given in order to advance the business of the people who gave the money. Every defendant has his own corruption case. Dachner came up with the idea and carried out the bribery deals. In the court, he answered the lawyers’ questions as best he could.”
Dachner essentially bought the services of then Mayor Olmert who, Rosen noted sarcastically, considered Dachner a “magical treasure that stood at his disposal.”
Then Olmert lied to the court in a bid to “blacken the name” of the state’s witness, according to Judge Rosen.
Olmert’s crime carries a maximum 10 year jail sentence, but a decade ago when the crimes were committed it was only 7 years. There’s a good possibility that when Olmert is sentenced, they’ll lean towards what the penalty was when the crimes were committed.
What bothers me most is first, that this was the only thing they were able to pop him on, and second, that there’s unfortunately no statutory penalty for his treasonous incompetence as Israel’s prime minister.
That did a great deal more damage to Israel than taking healthy bribes to push through building projects.