(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Attorney David Liba'i has stopped representing President Moshe Katsav, he announced Sunday without giving an explanation.
"At this stage I cannot explain," Liba'i told reporters. "All I can say is that I resigned and that the president has agreed that I have stopped representing him."
Later in the day, Katsav hired criminal and human rights lawyer Avigdor Feldman to replace Liba'i.
Meanwhile, Katsav issued a statement declaring that Liba'i's decision would in no way diminish his resolve to continue the fight to prove his innocence regarding allegations and potential charges including rape, forbidden intercourse by consent, committing an indecent act and sexual harassment.
According to the statement issued by Beit Hanassi spokeswoman Hagit Cohen, Liba'i decided to quit a week ago, before he and Katsav's other lawyer, Zion Amir, had received the evidence gathered by police during the investigation.
However, Liba'i promised he would remain at the disposal of the president, Amir and whoever takes his place.
It was no secret that Liba'i wanted to bow out of the case. People close to him said as much to the media long before Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz announced on January 23 that he was seriously considering indicting Katsav conditional on the outcome of a hearing that he would grant him.
However, there was much conjecture as to why Liba'i decided to resign.
According to one theory, Liba'i is one of the most successful criminal lawyers in the country, but is also concerned with his status and reputation as a public figure since he served as justice minister and head of the Knesset State Audit Committee during his political career.
As such, he almost exclusively represents suspects in white collar crimes and does not take on cases involving sexual misconduct allegations.
According to another theory, Liba'i did not want his name associated with the smear campaign allegedly run by Katsav's associates against the women who complained against Katsav.
One of these associates charged on radio recently that Aleph, the woman whom Katsav accused of blackmailing him, had been a prostitute. Liba'i went on record to say he had nothing to do with such allegations.
Finally, there was also the matter of Katsav's speech on January 25, when he blamed the media, the police, Mazuz and the state prosecution and the women who complained against him of lying and conspiring to bring him down.
According to reports, Katsav did not consult with Liba'i or Amir when drafting the speech.
Amir refused to confirm or deny that fact in the following days.
However, unlike Liba'i, who did not speak to the media during the months that he represented Katsav, Amir said the president had had no choice but to appeal directly to the people since the media had been so allegedly biased against him.