Page last updated at 21:31 GMT, Wednesday, 14 April 2010 22:31 UK

Former Jerusalem mayor arrested in bribery scandal

Uri Lupolianski (14 April 2010)
Uri Lupolianski rejected allegations that he received $800,000 in bribes

Israeli police have arrested the former mayor of Jerusalem in connection with a bribery scandal linked to associates of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

A judiciary spokesman told the BBC Uri Lupolianski was suspected of receiving bribes, money laundering, fraud, breach of trust, tax avoidance and conspiracy.

The Orthodox rabbi succeeded Mr Olmert as mayor in 2003 and served until 2008.

His arrest came as part of a probe into whether bribes were paid for building permits for a housing development.

Last week, Mr Olmert's former lawyer, Uri Messer, was also arrested in connection with the "Holyland affair", named after the controversial circle of high-rise luxury apartment blocks in West Jerusalem.

According to the police, during his time as deputy mayor from 1993 to 2003, and later as mayor, Mr Lupolianski received more than 3m Israeli shekels ($810,000) in bribes from the developers in return for helping to advance the project by rejecting hundreds of objections.

Mr Lupolianski rejected the allegations, telling Channel 10 news: "This was 20 years ago. I don't know why everyone suddenly remembers now. A deputy mayor has no responsibility - it's merely a title."

"The mayor is the one who decides... who chooses the path."

Earlier, a spokesman for Mr Olmert, who was forced to resign as prime minister in 2008 to fight separate corruption charges, said he had cut short a foreign holiday because he was wanted for questioning in relation to the Holyland affair. He denies any involvement.

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