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Israeli President rejects pardon request by former PM

Former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert
Former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin rejected on Monday a request filed by the former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was convicted in various corruption charges in February 2016, Israel’s Haaretz reported today.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin [file photo]

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin [file photo]

Rivilin’s decision came two weeks after the Israeli Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, requested the release of the ex-premier, despite the fact that many of her ministry’s officials had recommended against the request.

According to Haaretz, Rivlin said that the president’s authority is not a tool to appeal legal cases and so it would not accept a pardon request that would immediately release a prisoner from jail.

“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,” a statement by Rivlin’s office read.

The Israeli president explained that Olmert’s unique circumstances that were mentioned in the request were already taken into consideration by the court before he was sentenced.

“Olmert’s unique circumstances … including the depth of his fall, and his many contributions as someone who served for many years in the highest offices of the nation and contributed greatly to the State of Israel and its security — all these were considered by the court when it delivered his sentence,” the statement stressed.

Despite Rivlin’s decision, Olmert is expected to appear in front of a parole board soon to discuss his request.

Olmert began serving his prison sentence, in which he was convicted in corruption and bribery charges, in February 2016, becoming the first Israeli head of state to be imprisoned. In January, he requested a pardon, with his lawyers writing in a letter sent to Rivlin that Olmert had “suffered enough” and that “the time has come to end the suffering of Ehud Olmert as an act of mercy.”

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