Israel police call for ex-PM to stand trial on real estate corruption charges

[JURIST] The Israeli Police [official website] on Monday recommended that former prime minister Ehud Olmert [official profile; JURIST news archive] stand trial for his alleged involvement in the Holyland bribery scandal that occurred during his time as mayor of Jerusalem. A investigation was commenced [JURIST report] in April to probe Olmert's involvement in the alleged scandal in which top Jerusalem officials are believed to have taken bribes for enabling the construction of a high-rise luxury housing development. The police now suspect Olmert [AP report] of fraud, breach of trust and taking bribes to promote the project. Seven former officials have been arrested, including former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski, who was deputy mayor under Olmert. Lupolianski accused Olmert of being responsible for the scandal, saying the deputy mayor is nothing more than a mere title with no real authority. Police believe Olmert alone received USD $940,000 to approve zoning change, rejecting hundreds of objections, to allow for a 12-fold increase in the number of residential units allowed in the area, enabling the construction of a high-rise complex. Olmert is denying involvement in the scandal.

Olmert has been embroiled in accusations of scandal for much of his political career. He is already facing trial [JURIST report], the first of a former or current Israeli prime minister, for corruption and fraud charges that led to his resignation from prime minister in 2008. He is accused of illegally accepting cash contributions from an American businessman, double billing [JURIST reports] travel expenses to the state and charitable donors, and giving his former law partner access to state information. In April 2007, Olmert was investigated for improperly favoring his supporters [JURIST report] in distributing business grants during his time as trade minister. In January 2007, the Israeli Ministry of Justice announced plans to launch an investigation [JURIST report] into allegations that he promoted the interests of two business associates during the 2005 state sale of Bank Leumi [corporate website]. Last month, a complaint was filed [JURIST report] against Olmert and other top Israeli officials over their involvement in Operation Cast Lead [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive] for violating anti-terror laws [AFP report] and laws requiring the protection of civilians during the 22-day conflict in the Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder]. If the complaint is accepted by the Rabat chief prosecutor, the Israeli officials would face arrest upon entering Moroccan jurisdiction.

 

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