Police go head-to-head with Olmert: Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Tuesday that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his aids a key figure in the Holyland affair tried to blackmail him. In response, a high-ranking police official said, "Katsav and Hirchson also made similar claims when they were questioned, and look where their cases ended."
So far, the police have refrained from commenting on statements made my Olmert's lawyers in court, and on an announcement made by the former prime minister while abroad, in which he claimed he never took a bribe. But following Tuesday's reports that Olmert claims he was blackmailed, police officials are breaking the silence.
"It is difficult to fathom how such a senior official who claims he was blackmailed did not go to the police," the police official said, "If such an event did take place, he certainly would have brought it up over the years, or during one of his interrogations – and the fact remains that he did not.
"On the other hand, we would like to mention that Minister Avraham Hirchson, and President Moshe Katsav, both made similar claims of blackmail, and ultimately, their affairs ended with an indictment."
But Olmert's affiliates told Ynet the police were wrong to balk at his claims. "The blackmail attempt was made at the peak of the Olmert affairs, one year ago, when he had minimal faith in the police," one official explained to Ynet in answer to the question of why Olmert did not report his claims earlier.
"At the advice of his attorneys, Olmert wrote (the claim) down and entrusted them with it. If Olmert is interrogated he will give the police all of the details. If the police investigation is as thorough as they say, then they already have evidence of attempts to blackmail various people made by a central witness."
Despite the report police expressed confidence with the progress being made in the affair. Eight days after the investigation came to light, sources say that some of the people being questioned in the Holyland affair have incriminated themselves during their interrogations, giving support to the suspicions against them.
Besides a key witness that gave the police plenty of material tying most of the suspects to the affair, the detectives have managed to track down money that was allegedly paid off as bribes.
"It is a good thing that everyone is in the fog right now. They don't understand what we hold in our hands," the police source said. After the court decided to extend the remand of former Olmert aide Attorney Uri Messer on Monday, police on Tuesday are slated to request the remand of the remaining suspects also be extended.
In addition, it has been reported that key figures from the Jerusalem Municipality are slated to be questioned in the coming days over their suspected involvement in the Holyland affair.