katsav angry as hell 248 88.
(photo credit: AP)
President Moshe Katsav's lawyers met with Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz for four hours on Wednesday, and said they would meet with him again in about two weeks, to complete their arguments against putting their client on trial for rape.
And later Wednesday, Channel 2 reported that two friends of "Beit Hanassi Aleph," one of the complainants against the president, had contradicted her account of her alleged rape.
Katsav's lawyers reportedly highlighted the questioning of the two friends during hearing with Mazuz. They had learned of it independently of the Channel 2 report.
Channel 2 reported that during the initial investigation, Aleph was asked by police why her story should be believed. She responded that she had two good friends living in New York who could verify her account, since she told them of the alleged rape soon after it supposedly happened.
However, when the friends were questioned, investigators got no such verification. Instead, the two said Aleph had a "romantic affair" with Katsav and was "obsessed" with the president. "If she had been raped by Katsav she definitely would have told us," Channel 2 quoted the friends as saying.
Katsav's attorneys Zion Amir, Avigdor Feldman and Avraham Lavie arrived at the Justice Ministry at 11 a.m. for their hearing with the attorney-general, which took place in the presence of State Prosecution officials, including State Prosecutor Eran Shendar.
Before the meeting, Amir told The Jerusalem Post the legal team would present material that the police and the prosecution had not yet seen and that was not included in the investigation material.
Amir said he was hopeful they could persuade Mazuz to close the case without an indictment, and that he was certain Mazuz would hear their arguments with an open mind.
Katsav has already said he would resign if his lawyers fail to persuade Mazuz.
The fact that Mazuz agreed to a second meeting with the lawyers came as a surprise.
Originally, he had intended to hold a single hearing and then, two weeks later at the most, decide whether to indict the president. Time is an important factor in the investigation because Katsav's seven-year term ends in July.
The fact that Mazuz agreed to a prolonged hearing procedure could be interpreted as either a gesture to prove that he was giving Katsav's lawyers a fair chance to persuade him, or as a sign their arguments and the alleged new information they brought with them required additional consideration.
Amir told the Post that the fact Mazuz had agreed to a second hearing proved "he is giving great weight to our arguments and that he is taking this matter very seriously by deviating from his usual practice of granting only one meeting."
Katsav's attorneys expressed optimism and satisfaction following the hearing.
"We went through 60 percent of the material, 60 percent of the charge sheet, and we are scheduled to meet again for another session, apparently around the 17th of the month," Lavie told Channel 2.
He did not disclose details of the hearing but said he was optimistic that the authorities could be convinced of the president's innocence.
"We were pleasantly surprised by the good will and the willingness to listen on the part of the attorney-general and his aides," Lavie said. "They were very businesslike, and we hope it will bear fruit."