Is­rael’s ex-PM Olmert re­leased from prison

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Is­raeli ex-prime min­is­ter Ehud Olmert was freed from prison yesterday af­ter be­ing granted pa­role from a 27-month sen­tence for cor­rup­tion scan­dals that brought down his promis­ing po­lit­i­cal ca­reer. Olmert, the coun­try’s first for­mer pre­mier to serve jail time, did not speak to re­porters when leav­ing the Maasiyahu prison in cen­tral Is­rael. Wear­ing a dark-col­ored T-shirt, he was seen ex­it­ing the jail shortly af­ter dawn yesterday be­fore be­ing driven away to his home in Tel Aviv, ac­com­pa­nied by Is­raeli se­cu­rity agents.

The 71-year-old, pre­mier be­tween 2006 and 2009, was con­victed of graft and en­tered prison in Fe­bru­ary 2016. He was granted early re­lease by a pa­role board on Thurs­day, re­duc­ing his sen­tence by around a third. Prose­cu­tors de­cided not to ap­peal the de­ci­sion. The con­di­tions of his pa­role were not made pub­lic, but Is­raeli me­dia re­ported that they in­clude re­port­ing to po­lice twice a month and a ban on leav­ing the coun­try.

He must also vol­un­teer at as­so­ci­a­tions that help the poor, Haaretz news­pa­per re­ported. He can re­quest a par­don from Pres­i­dent Reu­ven Rivlin that would lift the re­stric­tions. Jus­tice Min­is­ter Ayelet Shaked told army ra­dio she would fa­vor such a re­quest. In March, Rivlin re­jected a re­quest for clemency by Olmert, but said he could con­sider par­don­ing him if he were granted pa­role.

‘Paid a heavy price’

Olmert, of the cen­tre-right Kadima party when prime min­is­ter, re­signed in Septem­ber 2008 af­ter po­lice rec­om­mended he be in­dicted for graft. He how­ever re­mained in of­fice un­til March 2009, when rightwing Likud leader Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu was sworn in to the post, which he has held ever since. Olmert won in­ter­na­tional ac­claim for re­launch­ing peace ef­forts with the Pales­tini­ans at the An­napo­lis con­fer­ence in the United States in 2007, but they failed to bear fruit and the cor­rup­tion charges against him have come to de­fine his le­gacy.

The pa­role board said last week that while Olmert’s crimes were “se­vere,” he was “pun­ished for his deeds and paid a heavy price.”“The in­mate un­der­went a sig­nif­i­cant re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion process in prison and dis­plays mo­ti­va­tion to con­tinue it,” it said. The de­ci­sion came af­ter Olmert was re­cently rushed to hos­pi­tal af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing chest pains in prison.—AFP

RAMLA: For­mer Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert (left), 71, leaves the Maasyahu prison yesterday. —AFP

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