Key Holyland suspect remanded again

May 4, 2010 04:20

Authorization given by A-G on new suspicions in other real estate deals.

2 minute read.

Meir Rabin

NMeir Rabin 311. (photo credit: NYaakov Lappin)

New suspicions have surfaced against key Holyland suspect Meir Rabin, police announced on Monday, during a remand hearing held for Rabin at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court.

In an extraordinary step, police produced a decree signed by Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein authorizing them to keep Rabin in custody beyond the legal limit of 30 days.

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Rabin, who has spent 28 days in custody, is suspected of transferring tens of millions of shekels from businessmen to public officials in several alleged real estate bribery affairs, including the Holyland property development in Jerusalem, property developments by the Zera Company, the Tzuk Menara construction plan, and a fourth investigation centering on former Israel Lands Administration head Yaakov Efrati, who allegedly received bribes from former Bank Hapoalim chairman Dan Dankner to get industrial land Dankner owned in Atlit rezoned for residential construction.

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Rabin worked in an office run by the state’s witness in the investigation, which police suspect functioned as a center for businessmen seeking to bribe public officials. The state’s witness has in recent weeks directed detectives to previously unknown alleged acts of bribery involving Rabin.

Ch.-Insp. Assaf Wallfish asked the court to extend Rabin’s custody by eight more days, saying that new incidents of bribery involving Rabin “came to light on Sunday.”

He added that Rabin was failing to cooperate with police during questioning.

The court ordered Rabin held for another week, the fifth time his remand has been extended.

Rabin’s attorney, Eli Cohen, argued that police were merely extending Rabin’s custody to pressure him to cooperate with investigators. He noted that all other suspects arrested in the Holyland investigation, including suspected bribe givers and takers, have been released to house arrest.

“Trying to convince him to cooperate is legitimate, but talking about new bribery affairs leads me to question the aim of keeping him in custody,” Cohen said in court.

In her ruling, Judge Irit Weinberg-Notovitz said that Rabin’s lack of cooperation was prolonging the investigation.

Rabin appeared dejected and tired as he sat in court, as anxious family members waved to him and offered him their support.

Police have not divulged what new affairs are being linked to Rabin, but The Jerusalem Post has learned that all of the affairs center on bribes given to public officials by businessmen to enhance or expedite real estate projects.

Detectives in the National Fraud Unit, who have been working around the clock to collect evidence to back up the state’s witness accounts, viewed the authorization given to them by the attorney-general to keep Rabin in custody as an important independent confirmation of the weight of the evidence in their possession.

Investigators from the Israel Tax Authority are also playing a key role in attempting to track the movements of illicit funds, and have reportedly been involved in Rabin’s investigation.

“The tax authority is part of the Holyland investigation on all tax-related matters linked to the offenses under investigation,” a tax authority spokeswoman said Monday.

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