• High court cuts prison sentence for bribe-taking to 18 months
  • Olmert will be first Israeli prime minister to go behind bars

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will become the first Israeli leader to serve jail time after the country’s highest court partially upheld his conviction on corruption charges.

The High Court of Justice reduced Olmert’s prison time in a bribery case to 18 months from six years after striking down the major charge on which a lower court convicted him last year. It upheld a lesser charge. Olmert is due to enter prison on Feb. 15, Channel 2 television reported.

Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Photographer: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

“I have said in the past that I never requested nor received bribes, and I say that again today, but naturally I respect the decision of the High Court justices,” Olmert told reporters after exiting the Jerusalem courtroom.

Olmert, 70, stepped down as prime minister in the face of multiple corruption allegations and was succeeded in 2009 by Benjamin Netanyahu. The ruling Tuesday addressed his conviction last year of accepting bribes from property developers while serving as Jerusalem mayor from 1993-2003. He still faces a final judgment on a separate conviction earlier this year of illegally accepting contributions from an American-Jewish businessman before he became prime minister in 2006.

While he is the first Israeli leader to head for jail, Olmert joins other prominent figures found guilty of criminal behavior. Former President Moshe Katsav is serving time for rape, and a former finance minister, Avraham Hirschson, was imprisoned in an embezzlement case.

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