(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Still firmly supportive of Moshe Katsav, senior staff at Beit Hanassi are hoping that Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz will be persuaded, at the legal hearing on the case, to drop the single charge of rape Mazuz has decided in principle to bring against the president.
The further hope, then, is that Katsav, even if ultimately convicted of other, lesser offenses, would avoid jail time.
Senior staff close to Katsav are empathetic with the victim narrative that the president presented on Wednesday night, The Jerusalem Post has been told, although some believe his conspiracy theorizing was exaggerated, and the potency of some of his charges against the media, police and prosecutors was undermined by his ferocity and emotion.
The mooted rape charge relates not to the first complainant, "Aleph," but to the second complainant, also confusingly identified as "Aleph," who worked at the Ministry of Tourism in 1998 and 1999 when Katsav was minister. Mazuz has already decided not to press rape charges in the case of the first "Aleph," rejecting a police recommendation.
Katsav's supporters are hoping that, if there is no corroborative evidence - notably, from other employees at the Tourism Ministry at the time - the president's lawyers could yet persuade Mazuz to drop the rape charge in the case of the second "Aleph" as well.
The Katsav loyalists say they are not aware of any conclusive "stain on the dress" evidence - a reference to the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky case - but they acknowledge that the only intimations Katsav and his legal team have into the kind of evidence amassed by police investigators stem from the nature of the questions that have been put to the president so far. Only now, in the run-up to the hearing, are prosecutors to make their evidence available to the defense team.
Senior staffers have not given up hope of Mazuz being persuaded at the hearing to abandon the prosecution altogether, and note that there are precedents for such a volte face. However, they acknowledge that this is unlikely. Indeed, the prospect of Mazuz being swayed on the rape charge would also appear faint, given the weighty consideration that the attorney-general would already have given the matter.
Katsav, it is understood, wrote Wednesday's remarks himself. Only his shouted exchange with Channel 2's Gadi Sukeinik was unscripted.
No members of the senior staff balked at publicly presenting themselves alongside the president for the extraordinary event, the Post was told; indeed, the number of staffers who appeared was reduced to prevent a sense of overkill.
Loyalists at Beit Hanassi on Thursday rejected the contentions that Katsav should not have used the platform of the presidency to so scathingly undermine the police and prosecutors, and that he had dishonored the office in so doing. He regarded Wednesday night as his final opportunity to publicly state his case as president, they said, and he rightly thought it vital that he level his scorching criticisms as president precisely because of their gravity.
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