Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert Reuters

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has been sentenced to six years in prison for accepting bribes in a trial linked to a massive real-estate development in Jerusalem when he was mayor.

Centrist Olmert was convicted in Tel Aviv in March of receiving bribes in the Holyland affair, which forced him to resign as premier in 2008.

The 68-year-old had denied wrongdoing. Judge David Rozen said the case "exposed governance that grew more corrupt and rotten over the years, with bribes paid to public officials," according to AP.

The judge said the higher the public office of an individual, the harsher their punishment for bribery should be.

"A public servant who accepts bribes is equivalent to a traitor," Rozen said.

Olmert denied any wrongdoing and said ahead of the sentencing: "This is a sad day in which an unjust and severe sentence is expected to be handed down on an innocent man."

Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003 and prime minister from 2006 to 2009. He succeeded Ariel Sharon after he had a stroke.

The Israeli politician was among 13 defendants in the Holyland case, which involves the construction of a massive hilltop housing project.

In 2012, Olmert was cleared of two major corruption charges but convicted of illegally granting favours to a business friend during his time as trade and industry minister under Sharon.

As prime minister, Olmert waged war against militants in Lebanon in 2006 and the Gaza Strip in 2008.