President Moshe Katsav accused the press of conducting a witch-hunt against him in an interview with Israel Radio Thursday, and he blamed a "band of conspirators" for driving the sexual allegations in a bid to oust him from public office.
Katsav refused to comment on the report published in Maariv Thursday morning, but he denied that the conspiracy against him included Likud party chairman, Bibi Netanyahu.
"I was speaking about a band of conspirators behind this plot, and I did not intend Benjamin Netanyahu," Katsav said. Two of the women making allegations against Katsav worked with Netanyahu in the past, according to the Maariv.
Katsav said that he had been unfairly tried and found guilty in the press, even before the investigation has been concluded. He said that at least half of the women who spoke with press alleging the president sexually harassed them, never made official complaints to the police.
"The press is leading the public pressure. Sometimes their actions even border on criminal, when false testimony is given because of the [media] pressure. Hostile media sources reached out to many young women," Katsav said.
Earlier, Lior Katsav, brother to the president, told Army Radio that the allegations of sexual harassment emerged immediately after the president publicly stated he intended to run for the Likud leadership. He said the claims made by the women were part of a wider conspiracy to oust Moshe Katsav from politics.
"I am strong because I know the truth, and I trust that sooner or later the truth will emerge" said Katsav, and he expressed hope the investigation would come to an end in the near future and said that he had no intention to resign from his post.
On Wednesday police sources said they believed there was enough evidence to press charges against the president that would include two counts of rape and two counts of lesser sexual crimes.
Also Wednesday, an eighth woman came forward with allegations against Katsav. She alleged that during his tenure as Tourism minister in the Netanyahu government Katsav harassed her and attempted to persuade her to have sexual relations with him.
Katsav told the woman, she said, that he dreamt about her at night while lying in bed with his wife, and encouraged her to wear button-down shirts and skirts at work for "easier accessibility."
Katsav's attorney Zion Amir responded to the new allegations by saying that "there are no bounds to humiliation, and no bounds to chutzpa," characterizing the woman as a disgruntled former employee.
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