Court Extends Remand of Three Holyland Graft Suspects

Two former deputy mayors of Jerusalem arrested alongside Meir Rabin, who police have dubbed a 'key witness'.

The Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court extended Thursday the remand of three suspects involved in the alleged Holyland bribery affair, after police said that there was sufficient evidence tying the suspects to the case.

The three suspects were Yehoshua Pollack and Eli Simchayof, both of whom served as former deputy mayors of Jerusalem, and Meir Rabin, who police have said could be a key witness in the affair.

The affair revolves around suspicions that massive amounts of money were transferred to city officials in exchange for construction and zoning rights for the Holyland apartment project in Jerusalem.

The presiding judge wrote in the ruling, which extended Pollack's remand by seven days, that he was "supposed to be a gatekeeper and he betrayed the public's trust."

Pollack, who was the right hand man and deputy to former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski, is suspected of accepting bribes, acting as a middleman, money laundering, fraud and conspiring to commit a crime.

The remand of former Jerusalem deputy mayor Eli Simchayof and businessman Meir Rabin was also extended by seven days. Rabin, who is suspected of having played a middleman role in the case, has been in police custody since the start of the investigation 18 days ago.

On Wednesday, former Bank Hapoalim chairman Dan Dankner and the former director of the Israel Lands Administration, Ya'akov Efrati, were arrested for suspected graft uncovered during the Holyland investigation.

Dankner is suspected of paying, through Israel Salt Industries, at least NIS 1.5 million in bribes to advance a land deal between Israel Salt Industries and the state, and Efrati, the first ILA official to be arrested in the Holyland affair, is suspected of accepting bribes.

The police base their suspicion among other things on Israel Salt Industries invoices written out to Meir Rabin, a relative of David Efrati, whom the police suspect was a conduit for bribe money, and to Shmuel Dachner, who was employed by the developers to advance the project. The invoices indicate some NIS 1.5 million in "mediation fees."

As far as is known, the money was paid between 2003 and 2004 and the phrase on the receipt was meant to disguise the real purpose of the payment.

Police suspect that the money was intended for the head of the Israel Lands Administration at the time, David Efrati, as well as for other officials in the ILA and outside it.

At that time, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was the minister responsible for the ILA.