(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The state's witness in the Holyland trial testified that he paid bribes that former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski requested, in exchange for help overcoming legal and zoning obstacles in the real estate project. In the fourth day of his testimony Thursday, the witness said he paid NIS 120,000 to Lupolianski's election campaign and financed NIS 1.2 toward a shul for the Yad Sarah organization, at the former mayor's behest.
He also recalled that in May 2000, Lupolinski gave him a personal tour of a Yad Sarah institution where Lupolinski wanted the shul built.
The Holyland trial, which deals with the large Jerusalem construction project of the same name, is a massive corruption case involving allegations against former prime minister Ehud Olmert, Lupolianski, former Bank Hapoalim CEO Dan Dankner and 13 other defendants.
The state witness, known officially only as S.D. due to a court gag order, said he initially thought that financing the new shul for Lupolianski's pet organization would be enough to obtain his cooperation.
However, S.D. testified that Lupolianski later returned and asked that S.D. also buy a new ark to hold the new shul's Torah in exchange for his continued cooperation.
S.D. said that the funds for the ark were paid by check, in small increments ensuring reciprocity with incremental progress of the Holyland project.
The assistance with Lupolianski's election campaign was a combination of cash and checks, according to S.D.
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According to S.D., all bribes, direct and indirect, to Lupolianski were approved by businessman and Holyland corporation owner Hillel Cherny, who S.D. has consistently identified as the mastermind behind the Holyland project.
In previous testimony, S.D. had said Lupolianski had accepted between NIS 2 million and NIS 2.5m in bribes from him directly and indirectly.
S.D. noted that Lupolianski was the head of the municipal authority that could approve, hasten or halt the Holyland project.
Lupolianski’s support was even more important, said S.D., since he controlled the haredi members of the Jerusalem City Council and the haredi vote in general – which had put Olmert in power as mayor. As far as S.D. was concerned, Lupolianski was as crucial as Olmert for ensuring the Holyland project could move forward.
S.D. added that he attended the weddings of all of Lupolianski’s children, giving each of them an NIS 5,000 present.
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