Israeli ex PM Olmert sentenced to eight month for graft

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud OlmertFormer Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has been awarded an eight-month prison term for receiving cash from a US businessman. Olmert has also been fined $25,700.

According to police, the former premier received money from 1993 through 2006, during his tenure as Jerusalem's mayor and while holding ministerial positions under former prime minister Ariel Sharon. He took over as prime minister in 2006 after a stroke  incapacitated Sharon.

The new sentence comes on top of six years in prison Olmert is already facing for taking bribes related to a controversial Jerusalem housing project while he was mayor (See: Israel ex-PM Ehud Omert awarded six-year jail sentence in graft case).

Olmert who was mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003 was prime minister from 2006 to 2009.

The latest case involved US businessman Morris Talansky.

Talansky told prosecutors that though he donated or loaned thousands of dollars to Olmert for political reasons, the money also apparently went towards luxury expenses.

"I only know that he loved expensive cigars. I know he loved pens, watches. I found it strange," Talansky testified in 2009. He added, gave Olmert $150,000 in loans and direct payments over 14 or 15 years.

While passing the sentence, the three-judge bench said, "The conduct of Ehud Olmert merits a custodial sentence. A public servant, a minister, who receives cash payments in dollars, keeps them in a secret safe and uses them for personal purposes, is committing a crime which undermines the people's confidence in public office".

Olmert had all along maintained he was innocent, and described the allegations against him as "a brutal, ruthless witch-hunt".

According to Olmert's defence team, they would appeal against the judgment as there was "no evidence of personal use by Olmert" of the money handed over by Talansky.

The former premier had been acquitted earlier of fraud and corruption in the case, escaping in 2012 with a $19,000 fine and a suspended jail sentence for breach of trust.

However, new evidence had emerged during his trial in the other corruption case, and prosecutors again pressed the charges.

In return for a lighter sentence, Olmert's secretary and confidante Shula Zaken brought to the court secret recordings of conversations in which he talks about the tens of thousands of dollars he had received.