Holyland. Product of corruption?
Photo: AFP
Olmert. To be indicted pending hearing
Photo: Ohad Zoigenberg
Holyland affair: Olmert to be indicted
Former PM, J'lem mayor among 18 state officials to be charged with bribery, prosecution says

The prosecution announced Monday that it plans to indict 18 suspects in the Holyland affair, pending a court hearing. The list is expected to include former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, his top aide Shula Zaken, and Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski.


All will be charged with giving or taking bribes in order to promote the gargantuan housing complex in Jerusalem.


The prosecution says it has amassed evidence proving that Hillel Cherny, one of the owners of the land, bribed a number of state officials with millions between the years 1994-2007.


The suspects, who have all received notices that the state is considering trying them, also include the mayor's deputies and the former city engineer, Uri Sheetrit.


The Holyland affair concerns bribes suspected to have been handed to state officials in order to promote the construction of various projects, including Holyland in Jerusalem as well as apartment complexes in Manara and central Israel. In August police recommended trying Olmert, who was Jerusalem mayor at the time.


Police also recommended trying business tycoon Danny Dankner, the former chairman of the board of Bank Hapoalim, for bribery and tax evasion. Shula Zaken, Olmert's bureau chief, is expected to be

charged with accepting bribes as well as breach of trust. Lupolianski, who was serving as the chairman of the local planning and construction committee, is also suspected of accepting bribes.


The attorneys representing Olmert addressed the state's decision to indict him Monday. "Olmert stated in the clearest manner that he has never accepted bribes, neither directly nor indirectly, and he stands behind this statement today," the defense said in a statement.


"This is a 'One Thousand and One Nights' tale that was conceived in the mind of a state witness, a questionable person who uses lies and falsities routinely to threaten and exhort money from people," the defense read.


During the investigation of the affair, which police have called one of the most severe cases of corruption in Israel's history, some 250 people were called in to give testimony. Among them was Olmert's brother, Yossi, who was questioned in the US.



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