Israeli Justice Ministry says former president Katsav to be charged with rape
JERUSALEM - Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav will be charged with raping a woman who once worked for him and with other sex crimes against former female employees, the Justice Ministry said yesterday.
The charges stem from a series of complaints filed by four women who worked for Katsav when he was tourism minister in the 1990s and president earlier this decade. They have accused him of crimes including rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Katsav contends he is innocent and a victim of a political witch hunt. Nearly a year ago, he called off a plea bargain that would have allowed him to escape jail time.
Defense lawyer Tzion Amir told Israel TV that state prosecutors "don't have evidence or a case" and that his client would be "dramatically acquitted."
Katsav resigned in 2007, two weeks before his seven-year term expired, under a plea bargain that would have required him to admit to lesser charges of sexual misconduct, but in a dramatic reversal last April, he declared he would stand trial to clear his name.
Attorney General Meni Mazuz has not decided when to file the indictment, which will also include charges of indecent acts and obstruction of justice, the ministry said.
A ministry spokeswoman said the warning of the impending indictment is customary for public figures. She said the indictment would be filed in "a short while," adding there would be no plea bargain or hearing. She spoke on condition of anonymity under ministry guidelines.
Although Israel's presidency is a largely ceremonial position, the allegations roiled the country by portraying the man who was supposed to be Israel's moral compass as a predatory boss who forced himself on female employees.
Katsav was replaced by elder statesman and Nobel peace laureate Shimon Peres.