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Olmert Called Chief Suspect in Holyland Scandal

Olmert Called Chief Suspect in Holyland Scandal

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was identified as the chief suspect in a massive real estate scandal that also has led to the arrest of former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski.

Police on Thursday identified Olmert as the senior figure in the Holyland project scandal.

Olmert voluntarily cut short a planned visit abroad Wednesday to return to Israel in order to be questioned in the corruption probe. He is suspected of accepting nearly $1 million in bribes during the construction of the Holyland apartment project in Jerusalem, built on the site of the former Holyland Hotel. Olmert is currently on trial in other corruption scandals.

Lupolianski was arrested the same day in connection with the Holyland scandal. Five other officials, including Uri Messer, a former aide to Olmert when he was mayor of Jerusalem, were arrested last week in connection with the corruption scandal.

Lupolianski is suspected of accepting about $750,000 in bribes during the construction of the Holyland project.

Police believe that Olmert received his money through Messer and his former bureau chief Shula Zaken, who also is on trial in another corruption scandal involving Olmert.

The Holyland project started while Olmert served as mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003, and ended with his successor, Lupolianski, who served until 2008.

The scandal, which became public last week, is being described as one of the worst corruption scandals in Israeli history.

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