- Title: ISRAEL: Israeli President Moshe Katsav to be charged with rape
- Date: 24th January 2007
- Summary: (BN 13) JERUSALEM (JANUARY 23, 2007) (REUTERS) DOCUMENT ISSUED BY GENERAL ATTORNEY OUTLINING THE CHARGES AGAINST ISRAELI PRESIDENT MOSHE KATSAV
- Embargoed: 8th February 2007 12:00
- Location: Israel
- Country: Israel
- Reuters ID: LVA6I6U2ZUIMKMBOY9ITDMSGLT4C
- Story Text: After months of investigation, Israeli Justice Ministry prosecutors file charges against President Moshe Katsav, accusing the president of sex crimes - including rape. Katsav's attorneys say they will overcome the charges in a legal hearing.
Prosecutors intend to charge Israeli President Moshe Katsav with rape and other crimes against female employees, the Justice Ministry said on Tuesday (January 23), in what would be an unprecedented indictment against an Israeli head of state.
But the case against Katsav, months in the making, appeared certain to strengthen the feeling among many Israelis that misconduct is rampant at the top.
"The attorney-general, with the agreement of the state attorney, reached the conclusion that there is sufficient prima facie evidence to indict the president," the Justice Ministry said in a statement.
Katsav has denied wrongdoing in a scandal that erupted last year when several former staffers filed complaints with police, accusing him of sex crimes.
The ministry said an indictment would include the charge of raping one of the four women who accused Katsav of sexual assault.
In the statement, Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz offered Katsav a last chance to present legal arguments before a final draft of the indictment, proposing a hearing at which he promised to hear the president's response with an "open heart and a willing soul."
In Tel Aviv, Katsav's attorneys said they would fight the charges and win in an upcoming hearing.
"The president is convinced it will become clear to all he is the victim of false accusations intended to push him out of his job, and he will fight to prove his innocence," attorney David Libai told the media.
Zeev Sagal, Professor Of Law, Tel Aviv University says Katsav's position will no affect international relations, or the lives of people in the region.
"Our President has basically formal authorities, there are no political implications of this resignation expect a real public excitement but it doesn't carry any political real influence on the Israeli life, decisions and big problems," Sagal told Reuters.
The news dominated coverage on all three of Israel's major television networks.
Katsav did not make any statements, though his attorneys were expected to comment later in the evening. Media gathered outside of the presidential residence.
Israelis were much quicker to comment on what they felt about the charges.
"I think that it is a shame that we came to that point that he is being charged," Moshe Shapiro of Jerusalem said.
"You can see that all his family is involved, his brothers and all that. And it is a shame, it is a big shame. And I feel bed for that. And I am ashamed," Danny Ben Barum told Reuters.
"I think that it is shameful that Katsav has been sitting so steadfastly on his seat for so long, being under such a heavy cloud of suspicion and I just heard that there are serious charges that have been made against him by Mazuz and frankly I am not surprised," Arnona, a resident of Jerusalem told Reuters.
The Justice ministry said a date for the hearing would be set soon.
While serving as president, Katsav can be put on trial only if he is impeached by parliament. He has said he would suspend himself from office if indicted.
Katsav has been president since 2000, a tenure due to end in July.
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