Israel ex-PM Olmert begins prison term for corruption


Ehud Olmert, once feted for his peace efforts with the Palestinians, on Monday became Israel’s first former premier to serve jail time as he began a 19-month sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice.

With the nation transfixed and Israeli television broadcasting live, the 70-year-old entered the Maasiyahu prison in the central city of Ramle just before 10:00 am (0800 GMT). He was escorted to the prison by officers of Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security agency as a crowd of journalists watched from nearby.

A debonair man reputed to have a taste for fine cigars, Olmert’s prison term closes a chapter in a long legal odyssey since he left office in 2009. The charges against him date to before his time as prime minister, to the years when he served as mayor of Jerusalem and economy minister, among other positions.