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June 23, 2017

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Ex-Israel PM Olmert gets 6 years jail for bribery

TEL AVIV--An Israeli court Tuesday sentenced ex-Premier Ehud Olmert to six years in prison for bribery, making him the most senior politician in the country's history to face jail for corruption.

Tel Aviv district court judge David Rosen also handed Olmert a fine of one million shekels (US$290,000) for his involvement in one of Israel's worst ever corruption scandals, a transcript of the verdict said.

His lawyer, Eli Zohar, told reporters outside the courtroom that his client would appeal.

"You heard what Ehud Olmert said at the pre-sentence hearings. He did not take a bribe, did not receive a bribe and as far as he feels he still sees himself as innocent."

"With us he will go to the Supreme Court to appeal."

The 68-year-old, who was convicted six weeks ago on two charges of taking bribes, is the first former prime minister of Israel looking at a prison term for corruption.

"This is someone who stood at the pinnacle, the defendant served as prime minister of Israel," Rosen said.

"From the highest and most respected post ... he fell to the level of someone convicted of contemptible crimes," the judge said in passing sentence Tuesday.

"A public official who accepts bribes is tantamount to a traitor," he said, adding a finding of "moral turpitude" — moral unfitness to hold public office.

Following a two-year trial, Olmert was convicted on March 31 of bribes to the tune of 560,000 shekels (now US$160,000) with the judge also saying he had committed perjury.

Even after his conviction, Olmert protested his innocence, saying he had never taken bribes. His lawyers were expected to appeal the sentence.

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