(AP) — Israel's former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert started serving a 19-month prison sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice on Monday, becoming the first Israeli premier to be imprisoned and capping a years-long legal saga that forced him to resign in 2009 amid the last serious round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Olmert walked into the Maasiyahu prison in central Israel hours after he released a video making a last-minute plea to Israelis meant to salvage his legacy. In the video, he appealed to the nation to remember his peace-making efforts as leader and denied any wrongdoing in the bribery conviction against him.
The three and a half minute video, released by his office and filmed at his home a day earlier, shows a weary-looking Olmert. He says it is a "painful and strange" time for him and his family and that he is paying a "heavy" price, but also adding that he has accepted the sentence because "no man is above the law."
"At this hour it is important for me to say again ... I reject outright all the corruption allegations against me," Olmert said in the footage. He said that in hindsight, the Israeli public might view the charges against him and the seven-year legal ordeal that enveloped him in a "balanced and critical way."