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Ex-prime minister Olmert leaves prison for first furlough
Former premier granted leave under heavy guard from Ma’asiyahu Prison after completing a third of his 18-month sentence for graft
After rejecting his two previous requests for leave, the Israel Prisons Service determined Olmert was eligible to leave the Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle after completing the first third of his sentence.
Wearing a black T-shirt and black pants, the former prime minister and two-term mayor of Jerusalem slipped out of the prison and into a waiting black Audi with tinted windows, which whisked him off of the prison grounds Monday morning.
Olmert will be closely monitored by prison security officials while at his home in Motza outside Jerusalem.
His wife Aliza Olmert was slated to come to the prison to sign as his guarantor, according to Channel 2 news.
Olmert was one of eight former officials and businessmen convicted in March 2014 in the Holyland real estate corruption case, which officials have characterized as the largest graft case in Israel’s history.
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert seen at the Jerusalem Supreme Court , January 19, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
He was sentenced in 2014 to six years in prison over two separate charges of taking bribes in the early 2000s, when he served as mayor of the capital.
In December 2015, the Supreme Court reduced his sentence to 18 months in prison after overturning one of the convictions of the Tel Aviv District Court
In March, the prisons service rejected Olmert’s request for furlough so he could attend the funeral of former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, despite the close friendship between the two men.
Earlier that month, Olmert filed a request to be allowed to attend the bar mitzvah celebration of his first grandson. The prisons service denied that request too, which came only days after Olmert began serving his 18-month prison term.
The prisons service refitted a wing in Ramle prison especially to house the former prime minister, keeping him in a separate complex shared only by carefully screened fellow convicts.
The special arrangements are intended to keep safe not only Olmert, the highest level Israeli official to ever be jailed, but also the trove of sensitive state secrets he carries with him.
Former president Moshe Katsav, who is serving a seven-year sentence at the same prison for rape and sexual harassment, is expected to be granted parole at a hearing next week, after completing two-thirds of his sentence.