Olmert Faces Third Round of Questioning Over Holyland

Former prime minister to be grilled over suspected transfer of money to brother in United States

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert will be questioned for the third time today in connection to the Holyland development affair. Olmert will go to National Fraud Investigation Unit headquarters this morning to answer questions on suspicion of bribery, fraud, breach of trust and money laundering.

His third round of questioning will focus on material police recently collected in the United States relating to suspicions Olmert funneled bribe payments from real estate developers to his brother Yossi, an academic living in the U.S., over several years


The former premier is suspected of advancing developers' business interests relating to the Holyland and other residential projects while serving as mayor of Jerusalem and industry minister. The latter post afforded him authority over the Israel Lands Administration

Over the last few months the police fraud unit has questioned dozens of individuals implicated in the Holyland affair, including public servants at the local and national level, as well as ILA officials

Questioning is being conducted with the assistance of representatives of the State Prosecutor's Office, and State Prosecutor Moshe Lador is being briefed continuously about the inquiry. The representatives of Lador's office examine police material and determine whether it justifies an indictment.

In his previous two questionings Olmert denied ever accepting bribes or committing any other offense, despite testimony from a state witness that raises suspicions against him. (The identity of the state witness remains under gag order. ) That testimony was collected by the police on more than 20 occasions, with the witness telling investigators Olmert had accepted bribes through former associates, Uri Messer, and his bureau chief, Shula Zaken.

Asked about money transfers to his brother, Olmert said the only funds he had provided to his brother had come from sale of a Binyamina property he inherited.

Like previous rounds of questioning, Olmert's third interrogation is expected to last eight hours. The third session is expected to be the last, as the former premier has provided explanations for most of the evidence with which he was presented.