The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court extended the custody of five
suspects, including the former head engineer of the Jerusalem
Municipality and a land developer, who were arrested earlier this month
by police investigating the Holyland real estate bribery investigation.
the remand hearing on Tuesday evening, Judge Avraham Haiman, deputy
president of the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court, said the police
investigation had uncovered “the most severe episode of corruption we
have seen, which penetrated the authorities.” He added, “the severity
is increased due to the involvement of senior figures, and I will not
say more than that.”
According to police suspicions, between
1999 and 2008 the Holyland development company and associated land
development projects, then owned by businessman Hillel Charni, paid
tens of millions of shekels in bribes to senior public decision makers
in the Jerusalem Municipality, members of its planning and construction
committee, the Israel Lands Administration, and others, in exchange for
their approval for the Holyland housing project in the capital and
additional developments in the North.
Real estate developer Meir Rabin is suspected of acting as an intermediary in the alleged bribery ring.
say he promoted Holyland projects and passed on tens of millions in
bribery money to decision makers in the Jerusalem Municipality.
On Tuesday, Haiman extended Rabin’s custody by ten days.
police representative to court said Rabin’s involvement in the alleged
offenses was “monstrous,” adding that he refused to cooperate with
detectives during questioning. “As the fog lifts, things are becoming
clearer,” the representative said.
Rabin’s attorney, Esther
Toledan, argued that police were seeking to keep her client in custody
because law enforcement officials were waiting to question former prime
minister Ehud Olmert, who was mayor of Jerusalem during the time of the
alleged offenses, and who is scheduled to return from abroad this
Toledan’s claims were rejected by Haiman, who ruled
that releasing Rabin would undoubtedly lead to a disruption of the
Haiman extended Charni’s custody by 10 more days
on Tuesday, ruling that a “most solid basis of evidence exists to tie
the suspect” to the alleged offenses. Haiman described Charni as the
“suspect with the largest interest in the corruption affair.”
police representative to court said “new evidence” had come to light in
recent days pertaining to Charni’s role as alleged bribe-giver to
“elements” in the Jerusalem Municipality, and alleged attempts by
Charni to disrupt the course of the investigation.
Hasson, an accountant for Holyland who worked under Charni, is
suspected of transferring bribery funds to officials and forging
documents while attempting to hide evidence of his alleged involvement.
Haiman said the evidence he studied in the form of a secret police
dossier showed that Hasson “carried out all of his employer’s
instructions which were criminal offenses,” and extended Hasson’s
custody by nine days.
Uri Sheetrit, former chief Jerusalem
Municipality engineer, is suspected of dropping his initial opposition
to the Holyland project in Jerusalem and becoming a supporter of the
plan after receiving very large bribes.
Sheetrit’s custody by nine days, ruling that his release would disrupt
the investigation, and noting a “development” in the investigation into
Sheetrit’s alleged role. Sheetrit was “entrusted to safeguard the
public interest and scenery of the capital,” Haiman said, adding that
“the severity of his offenses were great.”
Police said Sheetrit had “many opportunities” to turn down bribes, but chose to receive them at every available opportunity.
Avigdor Kelner, who managed the Polar Investments company between 1996
and 2007 and had majority stock ownership in the the Holyland Park and
Zera companies, is suspected of paying hundreds of thousands of shekels
in bribes via companies he owned to public officials in the Jerusalem
Municipality to promote the Holyland residential development.
Citing “new developments” in the investigation into Kelner, Haiman extended his custody by nine days.
new details have surfaced about a man who served as a business adviser
to Charni and helped manage the Holyland development for several years.
man, named as real estate developer Shmuel Dachner, fell out with
Charni over a dispute about how much he should have been paid for his
According to a civil lawsuit filed by Dachner at the Tel Aviv
Magistrate’s Court last month against a company described as a loan
shark, Dachner accumulated heavy debts on the gray market after
managing the Holyland project.
According to the lawsuit, Charni began paying off Dachner’s gray market
debtors, though in some cases the funds paid by Charni were less than
the total debt, sparking the business dispute between the two men.
Dachner had threatened to sue Charni, though the latter reportedly viewed the threat as an attempt to extort him.