Katsav won't attend Knesset if charged
Hundreds attend president's Succot open house event at Beit Hanasi.
By REBECCA ANNA STOIL, JPOST STAFF
October 8, 2006 20:40
2 minute read.
(photo credit: AP [file])
If an indictment is served against President Moshe Katsav, he will not participate in the Knesset's reopening ceremony for the winter session, Katsav's lawyer Zion Amir said on Monday.
In an interview with Army Radio, Amir reiterated that the president, who faces a growing number allegations ranging from sexual harassment to rape, was being tried unfairly by the media. "We are standing in front of a firing squad," he exclaimed.
Katsav sparks controversy by holding Succot open house
Katsav's lawyer has repeatedly portrayed the president's accusers as disgruntled former employees who were seeking revenge for their dismissal.
Meanwhile, despite the controversy surrounding the president, hundreds attended his Succot open house event at Beit Hanasi. Crowds queued up to shake Katsav's hand and to offer words of support for their beleaguered president, expressing their belief in his innocence and assurance that his honesty and righteousness would prevail.
Women from the Central Association of Rape Crisis Centers demonstrated outside Beit Hanassi calling on Katsav to stand down from office.
The special police investigative team probing the charges against Katsav put the finishing touches to their final report on Sunday. The report was expected to be submitted to Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz on Monday, and was said to be anything but good news for the embattled president.
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The final report comes just under three weeks after the investigative team led by Lt. Cmdr. Yoav Segelovich delivered its interim report to Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz and State Prosecutor Eran Shendar. Following the interim report, police said that they believed there was enough evidence against the president to press charges that would include sexual harassment, indecent assault and taking advantage of authority in order conduct sexual relations.
Although the police can recommend charging the president with specific offenses, the final decision is in Mazuz's hands. The attorney-general will review the investigative material, and then come to a conclusion as to whether the information merits initiating criminal proceedings against Katsav.
For the past three months, police have investigated claims by Katsav that one of his former employees was attempting to blackmail him, and claims by the former Beit Hanassi employee known as "Aleph", that the president sexually harassed her, coerced her into engaging in sexual activity and, on at least two occasions raped her. The case was first made public when the president approached police, telling them that he believed that he was being blackmailed by a former employee.
Only after Katsav approached police did "Aleph" come forward with her side of the story. The police investigation into the blackmail allegations has been held separately but parallel to the investigation into the growing number of allegations against the president.
Beginning in the first week of September, a landslide of allegations against the president surfaced as an additional seven women told police that Katsav had committed a range of offenses - from sexual harassment to forcible sexual contact - while they were in his employ. At least two women, however, have issued complaints regarding sexual misconduct that allegedly occurred during Katsav's tenure as president.
At least three of Katsav's accusers have come forward with allegations of crimes that fall beyond the statute of limitations for such offenses.
Katsav has repeatedly stated that he sees himself as a scapegoat of the chain of events generated by his former secretary in the aftermath of his informing the legal authorities of an attempt to blackmail him.