Middle East

Former Israel PM Ehud Olmert given suspended sentence

Ehud Olmert (file) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ehud Olmert was plagued during his three years in office by a string of corruption scandals

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been fined $19,170 (£11,800) and given a one-year suspended sentence for breaching the public's trust.

Olmert was found guilty in July of illegally granting favours to a businessman while he was a minister.

He was cleared of corruption charges which forced him to resign in 2009.

Olmert is now eligible to run for parliament, though he remains barred from serving in the cabinet while he faces another corruption trial.

Officials in Jerusalem are alleged to have taken bribes during his term as the city's mayor, between 1993 and 2003, and under his successor, to speed up a controversial residential development, known as Holyland.

Olmert has denied any involvement in the multi-million dollar scandal.

'Worst accusations'

In July the court in Jerusalem found that, while trade and industry minister, Olmert had made decisions that benefited companies that were represented by a close personal friend and former business partner, Uri Messer.

Olmert said he respected the court's decision and that he would "learn the necessary lessons", but insisted that the matter amounted to procedural irregularity rather than corruption.

Nevertheless, he said he would not appeal against the conviction.

At a hearing earlier this month, Olmert asked the judge for leniency in sentencing, saying "the worst accusations" had been made against him and that he had been subjected to a "media campaign of unprecedented size and intensity, in Israel and abroad".

Prosecutors had sought a sentence of six months of community service, as well as a fine and probation, citing the degree of Olmert's closeness to Mr Messer, his high position and the fact that there was more than one instance of conflict of interest.

After hearing the sentence, Olmert hugged his lawyer, Navot Tel Zur, and told reporters: "I leave court today with my head held up high."

But Jerusalem District Attorney Eli Abarbanel said he was considering appealing and insisted: "This affair is not over."

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