Jerusalem, May 13 IANS | 6 months ago

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has received a six-year jail term for graft and his attorney said Tuesday he would appeal.

"Olmert has been emphatic that he took no bribes, we will appeal to the Supreme Court," his lawyer Eli Zohar said.

He added that the words of the Tel Aviv District Court Judge David Rozen that "a public servant who takes bribes is akin to a traitor" were "very harsh" and "bundled all the defendants in one breath", according to Xinhua

Olmert has 45 days to appeal to the Supreme Court, which will decide whether he will become the first Israeli prime minister that will serve time in prison. His sentence also includes a fine of one million shekels ($290,000).

Last month, Olmert was found guilty of accepting 560,000 shekels ($160,000) from a contractor while he was the mayor of Jerusalem between 1993 and 2003 in exchange for helping the developers of the city's Holyland Park, a residential project.

Olmert had denied the charges all the way through the trial.

The sentence has stirred a barrage of comments by Israeli political leaders who said it was a sad day for Israel but praised its legal system.

"Personally, this is a sad day," Israel's President Shimon Peres said in a statement sent from Norway, where he is visiting at the moment. "But the legal process was untouched by personal interests."

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who served as a minister also in Olmert's government, echoed similar message.

"This is not an easy day when a former prime minister is sentenced," said Livni. "I have complete trust in the court and law enforcement officials, and the public should as well."

Expressing his commitment to the struggle against corruption, Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich said "this is a sad and difficult day for the State of Israel".

"However, the battle against public corruption is of the utmost importance," he said

"I unequivocally support the police in their attempt to quell corruption in the public service, at any level it takes place."

(Posted on 13-05-2014)

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