Ex-UK PM surprise witness at ex-Israel PM’s corruption trial

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Tony Blair has made a surprise intervention in the corruption case of former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, writing a letter to the court in support of his plea not to be sent to prison.

The glowing character reference for Olmert, who was convicted in March of receiving $600,000 (£400,000) in cash-stuffed envelopes between 1993 and 2002 from an American businessman, Morris Talansky, was one of several produced by Olmert’s defence team – another being supplied by the former Mossad head Meir Dagan.

Olmert already faces six years in prison for his role in the Holyland real estate bribery scandal, although the sentence is on hold pending the completion of an appeal.

Although the letter from Blair appears to have been written in a personal capacity, the former UK prime minister remains in a high-profile and sensitive role as the Quartet’s Middle East envoy, although reports earlier this year suggested he was on the verge of standing down.

In the Talansky case, Olmert faces demands from the prosecution that he should serve between eight and 18 months in jail for offences committed while he was mayor of Jerusalem. theguardian.com

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