Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert enters prison to begin his sentence, in the central Israeli town of Ramle, Israel, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
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Ehud Olmert, once feted for his peace efforts with the Palestinians, Monday became Israel's first former premier to serve jail time as he began a 19-month sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice.Olmert's prison term closes a chapter in a long legal odyssey since he left office in 2009 .In a video message released Monday morning before he began his sentence, Olmert maintained his innocence.Olmert broke away from the Likud with then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2005 to form the center-right Kadima party and became premier the following year after Sharon suffered a massive stroke and slipped into a coma.Olmert was initially given six years in prison in May 2014 for taking bribes in the early 2000s in connection with the construction of Jerusalem's massive Holyland residential complex, but the sentence was later reduced to 18 months.Olmert resigned as prime minister in September 2008 after police recommended he be indicted for graft, but he remained in office until March 2009, when Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in to the post, which he has held ever since.
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