(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Moshe Maroz, attorney for 'Aleph' from the Ministry of Tourism, on Wednesday slammed the decision to postpone the beginning of former president Moshe Katsav's trial, in which he was to admit in public for the first time that he committed sexual crimes against women who worked for him.
Maroz told Army Radio that this deferral would "make a mockery of the proceedings," and said this is was a result of Katzav's lawyers "wanting to enjoy the best of both worlds" - to get a plea bargain but not to admit that the former president indeed committed the offences.
"Postponing the deliberations still causes emotional stress to 'Aleph'. She has been ready for some time to come to the court and to testify against Katsav, but the announcement that deliberations have been postponed without inquiring as to her opinion and that they are continuing the investigation has come suddenly," Maroz said. "It is unacceptable that the proceedings be turned into a joke."
The Jerusalem district attorney's office voiced opposition to the delay. "We are not of the opinion that there is justification for the matter," the office wrote in a reply handed over to the court yesterday. "Though, in light of the request, there is no choice but to postpone the reading of the indictment until the matter is clarified."
In recent days it the district attorney's office decided to transfer to the attention of Katzav the investigative materials of 'Aleph', including her medical files. According to the claims of Katzav's attorneys, "the new information that emerges will shine a new light on the matter and will stun both the district attorney's office and the police."
Katsav's lawyers, Zion Amir, Avigdor Feldman and Avraham Lavi, have demanded to see all the evidence gathered by police during the investigation of their client before the trial starts in the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court.
Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen told The Jerusalem Post that the prosecution had agreed to the request.
The lawyers received most of the evidence in preparation for the hearing that Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz granted Katsav in May 2007.
Katsav's lawyers had demanded that the prosecution hand over all of the material, but the state refused. The lawyers then petitioned the High Court of Justice to be given the rest of the material. The court rejected the petition.
Now, on the eve of Katsav's criminal trial, the defense has raised the demand again. According to Cohen, the evidence that the defense has not seen yet is "unimportant and irrelevant." This was even truer today, he said, since the defense and prosecution had already reached a plea bargain and agreed on the charges against Katsav.
However, Feldman told the Post that the case was not yet completely resolved because there was still the possibility that the court would reject the one-year suspended sentence recommended by the defense and the state in the plea bargain, and there still remained the open question of whether the crimes for which Katsav was being indicted involved moral turpitude.
"Maybe we will find evidence to support our position on both these matters," Feldman said. "Why walk in the dark when it is possible to walk in the light?"
Cohen said that the state prosecution had given in on the evidence because it did not want to jeopardize the plea bargain.
Katsav's trial was due to open on Wednesday at 2 p.m. before an expanded panel of three judges. Originally, the court was to have read out the indictment, based on a plea bargain between the defense and the prosecution, and Katsav was to have pleaded guilty to the charges.
According to the indictment, Katsav is accused of committing an indecent act without consent through the use of pressure, sexual harassment and harassing a witness.
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