Holyland Probe Has 'Insufficient Evidence' Against Olmert

Suspicions 'well-founded' - but former PM looks set to escape criminal indictment.

The office of State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss has given the police information on investigations into former prime minister Ehud Olmert, including the Holyland affair, a former adviser to the comptroller says.

"As part of the process of relaying information ... in the various Olmert affairs, we also delivered to the police material on the Holyland affair, where former city engineer Uri Sheetrit, and a former associate of Olmert, attorney Uri Messer, and [Olmert's] office manager, Shula Zaken, were involved," Yaakov Borovsky, a former adviser to the state comptroller on combating corruption, told Haaretz over the weekend.

"We also received material regarding additional suspicions in connection with Olmert regarding various projects in Jerusalem and the receipt of funds for paying for election campaigns."

But he says the material was insufficient for basing a criminal case against the former prime minister.

Borovsky said that the suspicions against the people involved in the Holyland affair revolved around "unreasonable and unclear advantages in the Holyland project, which raised suspicions of flawed management and criminal violations."

Meanwhile, Haaretz has also learned that the investigation into the Holyland affair will continue for another six weeks, with 140 investigators focusing on it. This means that all other activities of the National Fraud Squad will be put on hold.

The intensity of the work schedule was decided by State Prosecutor Moshe Lador and the chief of investigations at the police, Yoav Segalovich.

A senior law enforcement source told Haaretz that despite Olmert's efforts during his television appearance Thursday to blame Uri Lupolianski, the man who succeeded him as mayor in Jerusalem, suspicions against Olmert are well founded.

The source said the evidence against Olmert is not only based on a state witness but also on documents and other testimony the police hold. If the police and the prosecution did not agree on this point, Jerusalem District Attorney Eli Abarbanel would not have asked the District Court to put on hold the proceedings against Olmert, the source says.

Even though the state has a major witness whose identity remains under a gag order, the police and the prosecution are trying to secure another state witness.

As far as law enforcement is concerned, Eli Hasson, the accountant for the Holyland project during the past 15 years and responsible for managing the company's funds, is the person who could serve as a state's witness. Hasson is suspected of keeping records and taking part in the transfer of bribes, mostly from Hillel Charney, owner of the property.

A source familiar with the investigation said this weekend that Hasson had not paid any bribes and did not receive any, but he is well versed in the system used to transfer money and cover up the money trail.

The source said the police and prosecution see Zaken as a potential state's witness. She is involved in various court cases against Olmert, and now also the Holyland affair. Her only way out may be to cooperate with the law-enforcement authorities, the source said.

More suspects in the case are expected to be interviewed by the police. One of these suspects is a senior figure who has chaired the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee. Another is a senior figure in the Israel Lands Administration.