Israel’s ex-PM Olmert starts jail term for graft

Jerusalem, Feb 15 (IANS) Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert on Monday started serving his 19-month jail sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice.

Olmert, 70, is the first ex-Israeli prime minister to serve time in prison, Xinhua reported.

The media showed Olmert entering the Ma’assiyahu prison in Israel.

A short while earlier, he released a video footage, proclaiming his innocence.

“At this time I want to say that I deny outright the charges relating to bribery attributed to me,” he said.

“As prime minister I was entrusted with Israel’s security and now I am the one who is about to sit behind bars. You may well imagine how this transformation is painful and strange to me.”

“It is with a very heavy heart that I accept the sentence — no one is above the law,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Prison Service said Olmert will be admitted to “block 10,” a special section of the prison intended to house prisoners who for various reasons cannot be placed with the general prison population.

Due to Olmert’s former position, “he is subject to various threats and is in danger”, she said.

Olmert, who served as the Israeli prime minister between 2006 and 2009, was convicted for bribery, fraud, and obstruction of justice for pressuring his former aide Shula Zaken not to testify against him.

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