Not a single one of the four women whose testimonies of sexual misconduct on the part of President Moshe Katsav are included in the indictment against him complained to the police on her own initiative, Katsav's attorney Zion Amir told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
Amir and his partner, Avigdor Feldman, have two big dates coming up in the next two weeks. On May 2, they will appear before Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz for a hearing, their client's last chance to avoid a trial - if they can persuade Mazuz, who has already announced that he intends to indict Katsav on a number of charges, including two counts of rape, to change his mind.
The other date is next Sunday, when the two lawyers will appear before the High Court of Justice to press their demand that the state prosecution give them a list of documents it refused to hand over with the rest of the material gathered by the police during their seven-month investigation.
According to Amir, one of the key factors that cast serious doubt on the charges against Katsav is the fact that in each case, the police had to urge the woman in question to complain, since none of them came forward voluntarily. "These circumstances arouse suspicion," said Amir.
Even the first witness, Aleph, whom Katsav accused of trying to extort him, did not complain to the police. She merely threatened to go to the police if Katsav did not pay up, charged Amir. "When she accused the president of sexual misconduct during her interrogation by the police, who were questioning her about suspicions that she had tried to blackmail Katsav, she was simply carrying out the threat she had made to him," said Amir.
The second Aleph, "Tourism Ministry Aleph," whose allegations led to the two rape charges against Katsav, did not come to the police either, Amir added. "They came to her. It's haunting. Why did they have to go to her? If she wanted to complain, she could have gone to them."
When the police act that way, Amir continued, it is hard to know how to determine where the truth lies.
"How can we know whether the woman is telling the truth or whether she is making things up because the police have encouraged her, or pressured her, or forced her to say these things?"
"In these situations, truth and fabrication can get all mixed up," Amir continued. "Maybe the police found out that these women had scores to settle with Katsav and went after them. It's a dangerous method."
Amir said Mazuz must take these arguments into consideration during the hearing. He added that he and Feldman had found many holes in the women's testimonies and their charges and would point them out, one by one, to Mazuz.
Still, Amir knows it will be an uphill battle to persuade the attorney-general to change his mind. He said he had heard Mazuz estimate recently that he has reversed his decision to prosecute in only 10 percent of the hearings he has held so far.
Regarding Sunday's petition, Amir said that even if the law did not oblige the state to hand over to the defense attorneys all the material in its possession, it should do so, at least in this case. "If the attorney-general wants to offer a genuine hearing and allow due process, he should let us see all the material, especially when we are talking about the president of the state. They should allow us to assess all the material in the most thorough way possible."
The material that the lawyers are demanding from the state include testimony of certain witnesses, videos of the women's questioning (they currently only have transcripts), documents declared classified by the court, and transcripts of the meetings between the women and the prosecutors. These meetings are not considered part of the investigation material gathered by the police.
If Mazuz decides to go ahead with the indictment, these documents could be crucial in determining the outcome of the trial, Amir said.