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Former Israeli PM to be charged in property scandal

Ehud Olmert will be indicted along with 18 other suspects for allegedly taking bribes.

Written by Agencies | Jerusalem |
March 14, 2011 8:54:21 pm

Disgraced former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert,who was forced to resign following a string of graft charges against him,will be indicted along with 18 other suspects for allegedly taking bribes in a massive property scandal,the prosecution announced on Monday.

The Tel Aviv District prosecution accepted the police recommendation to put the suspects on trial due to their participation in the alleged bribery scheme involving the “Holyland” residence project in Jerusalem,which was promoted during Olmert’s decade-long tenure as the city’s mayor.

All the suspects will be indicted for corruption,bribery,and other charges.

The other key suspects in the affair include former Jerusalem mayor,Uri Lupolianski,and Olmert’s former bureau chief,Shula Zaken.

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The prosecution’s announcement said that it has amassed evidence according to which Hillel Charney,the Holyland project developer,allegedly promoted the approval of building plans and the construction of the Holyland project by bribing various publicly-elected officials and public workers so they could use their authority to advance the interests of the project planners.

The former Israeli Premier has denied all charges against him pleading innocence. “Olmert stated in the clearest manner that he has never accepted bribes,neither directly nor indirectly,and he stands behind this statement today,” his lawyers said in a statement on Monday.

“This is a ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ tale that was conceived in the mind of a state witness,a questionable person who uses lies and falsities routinely to threaten and exhort money from people,” the statement said.

Last year,Olmert was named as a key suspect in the Holyland affair in which he is suspected of having taken bribes totalling some 1.5 million shekels ($422,000).

The bribes were allegedly given during the construction of the massive complex in the 1990s.

Olmert resigned under pressure in September 2008 after police recommended he be indicted in the other cases.

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