Olmert named as chief suspect in Jerusalem building scandal

Thursday, April 15, 2010 |  Israel Today Staff

Israel Police officials on Thursday announced that, as expected, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is the chief suspect in a new building scandal surrounding the luxury Holyland apartment complex in Jerusalem.

At the tail end of Olmert's time as mayor of Jerusalem, the land where the Holyland complex now sits was rezoned from commercial to residential status. It was originally slated to be the location of a new hotel.

Police estimate that the Holyland development company paid tens of millions of shekels to Olmert and other decision makers in the municipality, the housing planning committees and the Israel Lands Administration over a nine year period.

Former Jerusalem Mayor Uir Lupolianski, who served as Olmert's deputy before succeeding him, was arrested on Wednesday for the role he played in the affair. Olmert's long-time lawyer and legal advisor Uri Messer has also been named as a suspect.

Olmert was expected to return to Israel by the end of the week to face interrogators.

Other former Jerusalem officials are urging police to widen their investigations, insisting that Holyland is just the tip of the iceberg, and that corruption ran rampant during the tenures of Olmert and Lupolianski.

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