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Katsav charged with rape

by: Aviram Zino, Ynetnews.com - Last updated: 2007-01-23

Moshe Katzav

Moshe Katsav

Israeli President Moshe Katsav will be charged with a series of sexual offences, including rape, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz decided Tuesday.

A number of complainants had accused the president of sexual harassment, coercion and rape.

In addition, the president will also be charged with fraud, breach of trust, harassing a witness and obstruction of justice.

The president had been accused of pardoning prisoners and illegal wiretapping. However, these allegations were dropped due to lack of evidence.

In November, Katsav has said he would resign if indicted .

Attorney Kineret Barashi, who represents A, who leveled the charge of rape against the president, said: "The facts of the indictment speak for themselves."

The indictment had been delayed for several weeks as a number of state prosecutors believed that there was not enough evidence to charge Katsav with rape and that the prosecution would have to settle for lesser charges. Others argued that there was sufficient evidence, and this was the position ultimately accepted by Mazuz.

A senior state prosecutor said that he believed that the existing evidence, in the form of letters and tapes, would compensate for the lack of a "smoking gun" and prove solid enough to substantiate a rape charge.

In cases like this, said the prosecutor, the string of continuous testimonies and complainants will suffice. The prosecutor added that there was a more solid base for the prosecution than in the case against former justice minister Haim Ramon, where it was a matter of one person's version of events against another's.

Attorney Zion Amir, a leading member of Katsav's defense team, said before news of the indictment broke: "We believe that this case is full of holes."

Reproduced with permission: Ynet