May 13, 2014 - 13:01 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Israel's ex-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced to six years in jail on Tuesday, May 13 for taking bribes in a massive real estate deal, a crime the judge said was akin to treason, according to Reuters.
The first criminal conviction of a former Israeli head of government all but ended speculation that Olmert - a centrist credited internationally with working towards a peace settlement with the Palestinians - might return to political life.
He had denied any wrongdoing in the property deal that took place while he was in his previous post of Jerusalem mayor.
"A public servant who takes bribes is akin to a traitor," said Judge David Rozen of the Tel Aviv District Court.
"(Olmert) is a criminal who devoted most of his time to praise-worthy public service. (But) he also lined his own pockets," he said in passing sentence.
Rozen ordered Olmert to report to prison on September 1, effectively giving his lawyers time to lodge what they said would be an appeal to the Supreme Court and a request that he remain free until it rules.
Two years ago, the veteran politician was acquitted of most of the major charges brought against him in separate cases involving his links to a U.S. businessman.
Those corruption allegations forced Olmert's resignation as prime minister in 2008, and his acquittal had appeared to position him for a possible political comeback.
But in the new corruption trial, Rozen found Olmert guilty on March 31 of two bribery charges and said he accepted 500,000 shekels ($144,000) from developers of the Holyland apartment building complex in Jerusalem and 60,000 shekels in a separate real estate project.
On Tuesday, the judge granted the prosecution's request for a six-year jail term.