(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The woman who was the first to complain that she had been sexually assaulted by President of the State Moshe Katsav met with prosecutors on Monday at the Jerusalem District Attorney's Office.
Attorney Kinneret Barashi, who represents the plaintiff, known as Alef, said the meeting between the prosecutors and her client was being held "to get acquainted."
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According to reports, the prosecution wanted to gain a first-hand impression of the woman who may be the state's key witness against Katsav if it decides to file an indictment against him.
The president of the state cannot be put on trial. However, Katsav's seven-year tenure is due to end next year at the latest. Furthermore, the Knesset would likely force him out of office, assuming he does not resign himself, even sooner, should the attorney-general conclude that the allegations against him are serious enough to warrant an indictment.
Last week, reports emanating from government sources indicated that police are also considering charging Alef with extortion, an allegation that does not necessarily conflict with the suspicions against Katsav.
According to a Channel 10 News report, the police are in possession of a tape recorded by Katsav of a phone conversation he had with Alef.
According to the recording, Katsav told Alef, "But I don't have half a million dollars to give you." Alef replied, "So, give me $200,000. [Otherwise,] I will tell about the bank account you have abroad as a result of the pardons you have granted. Even if you were to give me $2 million, it wouldn't help after what you did to me."
Barashi was asked by reporters on Monday about the allegedly incriminating recording. "The sentence, the conversation and the tape begin with this sentence," she acknowledged. "However, we must keep in mind that before this sentence, there were many very, very important sentences [in the conversation] that contradict this whole claim, and the tape also ends with the sentence "Even if you were to give me $2 million, it wouldn't help after what you did to me."
Notwithstanding the controversies in which he is embroiled, Katsav last week received the green light from the government to lead the Israeli delegation to Kiev for the 65th anniversary commemoration of the massacre at Babi Yar.
Katsav, who will be accompanied to the Ukraine by his wife, Gila, is scheduled to meet on Tuesday afternoon with Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko, after which the two presidents will jointly open an exhibition in memory of the children who perished in Babi Yar. The opening of the exhibition will be followed by a reception for delegations from more than 40 countries participating in the commemorative events.
In the evening, the Katsavs will be the guests of the Jewish community at a reception at the Brodsky Synagogue.
On Wednesday morning, they will attend a memorial service at the Menora Monument at Babi Yar, after which Katsav, who is a great believer in top-level dialogue, will have a private meeting with Croatian President Stjepan Mesic.
The main ceremony in memory of the 100,000 people - more than one-third of whom were Jews - who were slaughtered by the Nazis at Babi Yar will be held at noon at the site of the massacre.
Yuschenko and his wife will host a state luncheon for the Katsavs, after which they will join all the delegations in a forum dedicated to the study of the Holocaust and the need to find the correct formula to stem fresh outbreaks of anti-Semitism and other forms of racism.
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