Former Jerusalem Mayor Arrested in Holyland Case

Uri Lupolianski suspected of receiving almost 3 million shekels in bribes.

Published: April 14th 2010
in News » Israel

Former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski in court hearing on Wednesday

Former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski was arrested Wednesday in connection with the Holyland case. Lupolianski is suspected of receiving almost 3 million shekels in bribes from the initiators of the project in order to ensure that the project is approved.


Police suspect that between 1999 and 2008 the Holyland development company paid tens of millions of shekels in bribes to senior public officials in the Jerusalem Municipality, the Israel Lands Administration and other organizations. In return for the money, the officials ensured the approval for the housing project. It is believed that the money was transferred from Holyland’s initiators to the officials through an intermediary, Shmuel Dachner.


At that time Lupolianski served as deputy mayor and chairman of the city’s planning and construction committee. The bribe money was allegedly transferred to Lupolianski as a donation to Yad Sarah, a charity for disabled and elderly people which Lupolianski founded and stood at the head of.


It is believed he continued to work to advance the Holyland project during his tenure as mayor of Jerusalem from 2003 to 2008.


Altogether, by 1999 Lupolianski had taken some 1.5 million shekels and from 2000 to 2006 he took an additional 1.4 million shekels. In addition, he is suspected of receiving $30,000 during the Jerusalem mayoral elections in 2003, as well as $100,000 in 2005 in the form of a donation to a Judaic studies program run by his son. It is believed that besides helping to advance the Holyland project, Lupolianski saved its entrepreneurs millions of shekels.


In court yesterday, Lupolianski  said that Ehud Olmert, who served as mayor before him, was responsible: “The mayor is the one who decides; he is the navigator…the deputy mayor has no responsibility. This means good things and bad things. There is no responsibility. It's nothing. It's just a title to take care of it, to make it nice. The mayor is the one who decides, and that's the truth,” he was quoted in Ynet as saying.


Police sources, however, told Ynet that Lupolianski is one of the main figures in the affair: police sources said he is one of the main figures in the bribery affair: “Thanks to Lupolianski and the decisions that were made by the committees in which he sat, the entrepreneurs raked in hundreds of millions of shekels.”


Judge Avraham Heiman of the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court extended Lupolianski’s custody by five days, citing fears of disruption of the investigation.


Earlier on Wednesday, it was reported that Olmert decided to cut his stay in Europe short, following the massive media reports of his alleged involvement in the Holyland scandal. Channel 2 News reported that Olmert landed in Israel early Thursday morning and made his way towards his home. Police investigators did not wait for Olmert when he landed.


The gag order related to the case which was imposed in Israel was lifted on Thursday, and Olmert was officially named a suspect. He is likely to be summoned for questioning after Yom Ha'atzmaut.


Police suspect that the total amount of funds transferred to Dachner is about 55 million shekels.

Related articles: (uri lupolianski, ehud olmert, holyland, bribes)

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