A pardon request by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been denied by President Reuven Rivlin. The former PM is currently serving a 26-month prison term (started in February 2016) for bribery and obstruction of justice.
“The president’s pardon powers are not an appeal process against a court decision, and therefore no grounds were found to grant a full pardon and release from prison,” Rivlin’s office explained in a statement, according to Times of Israel.
Olmert, 70, was convicted in 2014. The ex-PM denied the charges against him shortly before his prison sentence, though he acknowledged that he had “made mistakes.”
“At this time, I want to say again what I said inside the court and outside,” Olmert said in 2016, “that I categorically deny the charges relating to bribery attributed to me.”
Olmert has the dubious distinction of being the first former Israeli Prime Minister to serve a prison sentence, though not the only Israeli politician, as former Israeli President Moshe Katzav is currently serving a seven-year sentence.
Olmert’s prison term has seen several additions and reductions of time since being handed down. In 2014, the disgraced Prime Minister received a six-month sentence for two cases of bribery in the early 2000s, during his lengthy tenure as Jerusalem mayor.
Though the sentence was cut to 18 months after one of the convictions was overturned by the Supreme Court following an appeal, eight months were tacked on to Olmert’s sentence in September 2016 for the Talansky affair, a case in which Olmert (then mayor of Jerusalem) allegedly accepted bribes from U.S. businessman and fundraiser Morris Talansky in exchange for political favors.
Despite the corruption and controversy surrounding him, Olmert has expressed hope that at least some of his legacy might still be salvaged, and that posterity may not view him in an entirely unflattering light.
“Perhaps with more distance, the public will be able to examine this dire moment with a critical and balanced outlook,” Olmert said last year. “I hope that then they will recognize that during my tenure as prime minister, honest and promising steps were taken to open a door of hope for a better future of peace, happiness and security.”