Indictment against Katsav in works
Livni: "Now that indictment is imminent, president should resign."
By REBECCA ANNA STOIL, DAN IZENBERG, JPOST STAFF
October 15, 2006 00:25
3 minute read.
(photo credit: )
Attorney General Menahem Mazuz and the state prosecutor have begun the indictment process for President Moshe Katsav, sources in the Justice Ministry said Tuesday. The Jerusalem office of the state prosecutor is wording the indictment, and it is expected to be handed to the president within two weeks.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, speaking to Army Radio, said that now that the indictment was imminent, Katsav should step down.
On Monday, Katsav's lawyer, Zion Amir, had said that he was "shocked" at the sweep of criminal charges his client will face.
On Sunday, police announced that they had gathered sufficient evidence to recommend indicting the president on charges of rape, as well as indecent acts using force, indecent acts without consent and sexual harassment offenses.
A tale of two presidents (Opinion, October 1)
The police also informed Mazuz that there was enough evidence to prove that Katsav had committed grand larceny, fraud and breach of trust, and violated a law against wiretapping. Police said that they were still gathering evidence to support further suspicions that Katsav may also have harassed a witness and disrupted judicial procedures.
The police officially presented their conclusions to the state prosecution at a meeting late Sunday afternoon at the Justice Ministry attended by Mazuz, the head of the Police Intelligence and Investigations Unit, Cmdr. Yohanan Danino, the head of the Katsav investigation team, Lt.-Cmdr. Yoav Segelovich, State Attorney Eran Shendar, Deputy State Attorney Shuki Lemberger and others.
In addition to the evidence the police have gathered regarding Katsav's alleged sexual crimes, the police also maintain that there is sufficient evidence to press charges against Katsav for having listened in to the conversations of employees of the President's residence and of improprieties regarding his decisions to grant pardons.
Although he has refrained from saying so in public so far, Mazuz believes Katsav should suspend himself until the state makes a final decision on whether the evidence justifies a criminal indictment in order to save the Israeli public from further embarrassment and confusion.
But even if Mazuz makes such a declaration, it will be a moral statement rather than a legal opinion, since he has no power to order Katsav to do so.
According to a Channel 10 news report, Katsav has already said that should Mazuz endorse the police conclusions, he will resign. If he does not to so, a majority of 90 MKs can dismiss him.
Most of the evidence uncovered by the police in their three-month investigation was turned over to the Jerusalem District Attorney's Office on September 19 and is currently being studied by a team of prosecutors headed by Jerusalem District Attorney (Criminal) Eli Abarbanel. They are expected to complete their work and submit their recommendation to Mazuz in less than one month. Mazuz will then make the final decision.
Katsav's legal team was dealt a further blow Sunday when the investigators announced that they did not have sufficient evidence to charge the president's main accuser, known as "A.", for blackmailing the president.
For the past three months, parallel to their investigation of the president, police have investigated claims by Katsav that one of his former employees - "A." was attempting to blackmail him. The entire scandal became public when Katsav went to Mazuz and asked for his advice regarding A. whom, he said, had threatened to accuse him of sexual crimes unless he paid her off. Although Katsav refused to make a formal complaint, Mazuz ordered the police to investigate his allegation. The investigation quickly led back to him.
Only after Katsav approached police did A. come forward with her side of the story. Discrediting A. as a blackmailer with ulterior motives has been a major part of Amir's strategy for the past two months, a strategy that is now facing its most difficult roadblock yet.