On 19 June 2014, the Tel Aviv District court sentenced former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski to six years imprisonment, for his role in the scandal involving former premier Ehud Olmert.
Lupolianski was the chairperson of the Planning and Building Committee and was responsible for the Family Services and Community portfolio. He was a member of the National Building and Planning Committee and the Committee for the Development of Holy Places.
Lupolianski was mayor of Jerusalem between 2003 and 2008. He was accused of accepting bribes worth USD 580,000 from promoters of Jerusalem’s massive Holyland residential complex. His trial is said to be the final one involving Holyland residential project.
Olmert has already appealed to the Supreme Court and Lupolianski is expected to file his appeal shortly.
It is claimed that Lupolianski did not receive any money directly, but channeled some NIS 2 million in bribes to the respected medical charity he founded, Yad Sarah. A Yad Sarah representative released a statement on Wednesday saying that the organization had “nothing to do with the Holyland affair and has never taken a bribe.”
The police also alleged that Lupolianski chanelled $30,000 to field activists for his Mayoral election in 2003. The police also alleged that Lupolianski accepted NIS 100,000 in bribes in 2005, as a “donation” to a religious educational center that was managed by his son.
Lupolianski exploited his positions as chairperson of the municipal Construction and Planning Committee to overrule the calls to lower the height of the Holyland residential towers by two stories. He also allegedly helped ensure that almost 1,000 objections to the plan were overruled.
He also has serious health issues and this could be a good reason to support his appeal. The former mayor suffered from cancer and was recently hospitalized for pneumonia.
Olmert decided to return to Israel from his overseas trip because of numerous reports that the police were seeking to question him on his involvement in the HolyLand project.
Uri Messer, who allegedly acted as an intermediary between bribe givers and takers has transferred hundreds of thousands of shekels in bribes. He is scheduled to appear before court on Thursday for a third remand hearing. He was said to be a former Olmert associate.