Katzav fac­ing rape charges once again


AT­TOR­NEY-GEN­ERAL ME­NACHEM Mazuz hinted this week that he would charge Moshe Katzav with rape and other se­ri­ous sex­ual crimes af­ter the for­mer Pres­i­dent re­pu­di­ated a bar­gain un­der which he would have pleaded guilty to lesser of­fences and saved him­self the hu­mil­i­a­tion of a trial.

Mr Katzav, a 62-year-old fa­ther of five, in­sisted that he was in­no­cent. He will now be the first Is­raeli head of state to be in­dicted and the first to risk be­ing sent to prison.

“Pre­sum­ably the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of this move are clear to Katzav,” the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral said. He re­called that be­fore the plea bar­gain was signed the pros­e­cu­tion had in­tended to in­dict him on the gravest of­fences of which he was sus­pected. “Now, since the plea bar­gain has been can­celled, the de­ci­sion called for in the cir­cum­stances will be made soon.”

Eran Shen­dar, who re­tired re­cently as chief pros­e­cu­tor, told army ra­dio that they had al­ways planned to charge Mr Katzav with rape if there was no deal.

“We cer­tainly be­lieved there was ev­i­dence for con­vic­tion,” he added, de­spite ac­knowl­edg­ing prob­lems with some of the wit­nesses.

Eight women who worked for Mr Katzav in the Pres­i­dent’s of­fice or his pre­vi­ous post as Tourism Min­is­ter have lodged com­plaints al­leg­ing vary­ing de­grees of sex­ual as­sault. One of them, iden­ti­fied as A from the Tourism Min­istry, ac­cused him of rap­ing her twice in the of­fice and a Jerusalem ho­tel. Mr Mazuz had pre­vi­ously branded Mr Katzav a “se­rial sex of­fender”.

An­a­lysts say the erst­while plea bar­gain has made the task harder for both pros­e­cu­tion and defence. In jus­ti­fy­ing the deal when it was chal­lenged in the Supreme Court, the At- tor­ney-Gen­eral ad­mit­ted that there were weak­nesses in the ev­i­dence and doubts about the cred­i­bil­ity of the wit­nesses for the more se­ri­ous charges. Now he will have to prove oth­er­wise. None­the­less, by sign­ing an agree­ment to plead guilty to sex­ual ha­rass­ment, Mr Katzav un­der­mined his own claim that he was guilty of noth­ing more than a fatherly pat, a brush of the hand.

He has now en­sured that al­le­ga­tions will be aired in all their lurid de­tail.


Moshe Kat­sav ( left) with his wife Gila at a Jerusalem court this week

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