Olmert Holyland probe lasts 8 hours

Former PM's US brother also suspected of receiving bribes.

olmert at court 311 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
olmert at court 311 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert entered a police office in Lod on Tuesday morning for eight hours of questioning in connection with the Holyland affair.
Olmert, who is not the prime suspect in the affair, is the latest in a long list of suspects to be interrogated in the police investigation, which was made public on April 7.
“The former prime minister, Ehud Olmert, was summoned this evening by the police to an interrogation, which will take place tomorrow morning in the offices of the National Unit for Aggravated and International Crime,” his spokesman, Amir Dan, said in a written statement on Monday night.RELATEDHolyland building frozen for 100 daysAnalysis: Holyland affair casts shadow on planning reformHolyland shows need to prevent business mixing illicitly with politicsPolice prepare to confront Olmert
“After six weeks of baseless and false leaks, the police have finally found the time to look into the allegations with Olmert himself, and, for the first time, he will have the opportunity to address their substance. Olmert has made it clear more than once that he was never offered a bribe and never took a bribe, directly or indirectly. It is very sad that the police leak the fact that Olmert has been summoned and turn the whole thing into theatrics.”
The Holyland affair involves suspicions that the owners of a large tract of land near Jerusalem’s Bayit Vagan neighborhood, where the Holyland Hotel once stood, paid bribes in order to vastly increase their building rights on the property, and therefore its value, and to have the land zoning changed to residential. They also allegedly received many other benefits, including tax breaks from the municipality of Jerusalem for the project.
Some of the changes made in the Holyland project were carried out during Olmert’s term in office as mayor of Jerusalem. Others transpired during the term of his successor, Uri Lupolianski.
The police have already questioned Hillel Charni, one of the owners of the Holyland project, Uri Messer, Olmert’s former close friend and attorney, Yehoshua Pollack, former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Sheetrit, former Jerusalem city engineer and Shula Zaken, Olmert’s long-time bureau chief.
According to the allegations, Olmert received bribes through Messer and Zaken to support the changes in the project requested by its owners.

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.