Itongadol.- Former prime minister Ehud Olmert maintained his innocence at the sentencing hearing for his conviction in the Holyland real estate scandal on Tuesday, choosing not to admit guilt or express remorse in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence.
"I never asked for, or got a bribe, neither indirectly nor directly, not for me, not for close people, not for anyone in the family," Olmert said.
"I respect this place, all judges in israel, and you, so I decided to keep my remarks very short and will not cry out the cry that I wanted to make," he said. "I never took a bribe. This is the truth and there is no other."
Olmert\’s defense team made their arguments Tuesday to get their client a lighter sentence than the minimum of six years in prison that the State Attorney\’s Office is asking the court to give the former prime minister.
Speaking on the second day of sentencing arguments for Olmert, top defense lawyer Eli Zohar asked the court to "depart" from the "standard" spectrum of punishment for bribery convictions.
Olmert\’s attorney said that the former prime minister should not get any jail time at all. The maximum sentence he could be given, in the most extreme case, would be no more than 18 months, he added.
He said that Olmert intended to "fight on to the end."
Zohar said Olmert has been "punished in the media and before the public insufferably according to all notions of what could be expected in Israel and around the world." He continued, "what has happened in recent weeks, with Zaken has been an insufferable media festival." which "has harmed this legal process."
In a heated exchange, Zohar asked Judge Rozen to ignore the large amount of the bribery funds Olmert is accused of being involved with.for purposes of punishment. Rozen responded almost angrily saying "what are you saying that 20,000 shekels is the same as 500,000 shekels?"
Rather, said Rozen, "of course, the amount of the bribe, and scope of the crime impacts the severity of the punishment."
The State Attorney’s Office on Monday asked that Olmert be given a minimum of six years in prison and a maximum of 11 years for his bribery conviction, in the first of multiple days of sentencing hearings.
The sentencing’s time frame stems from two separate counts of bribery: one in which the state asked for five to seven years – relating to the $500,000 given to Olmert’s brother at his request – and another in which the state asked for two to four years, relating to the NIS 60,000 paid toward Olmert’s election debts.
The court will decide what sentence Olmert, who was convicted on March 31, will receive at a later date. The state further requested that Olmert be fined NIS 1,347,000.