(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
In accordance with an order handed down by the High Court of Justice a day earlier, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz released for publication on Thursday the draft of the indictment he had prepared against then-president Moshe Katsav in January.
The demand to publish the text of the draft came from the Movement for Quality Government, the Women's Network, the Association of Rape Crisis Centers and other women's organizations that together petitioned the court to order Mazuz to withdraw the plea bargain he reached with Katsav's lawyers.
Even before Thursday, the public was well aware of the radically different charges included in January's draft indictment and the final one published by Mazuz in June. Although the attorney-general did not release the text of the first draft indictment at the time, he revealed the charges it contained, including two counts of rape involving the "second Aleph," otherwise known as "Tourism Ministry-Aleph," and a charge of forbidden intercourse by exploiting his authority involving the "first Aleph," also known as "Beit Hanassi-Aleph."
But during two hearings over the past two weeks, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch made it clear she attached great importance to the description of the facts in the indictment, which served as the foundation for the criminal charges. Beinisch said the facts had to be an accurate reflection of the evidence gathered in the investigation.
Yet, she continued, even though the evidence had hardly changed between the first and second indictments, the facts included in each had dramatically changed.
Beinisch was particularly disturbed by the fact that although in the final indictment, Katsav was charged with "committing an indecent act without consent by applying pressure," there was no mention of pressure of any kind, let alone force, on the part of Katsav in the factual description. This differed profoundly from the description of the facts in the original indictment.
The final draft describes a series of sexual acts allegedly committed by Katsav, including asking the second Aleph to stand by his side at his library, sticking out his hand and stroking her leg, and trying to press his body against hers in a place outside the ministry office.
The factual description in the first indictment includes all of the above and much more. For example, "in one instance, [Katsav] called Aleph and said he must come to her house, claiming that they had to meet on business. After entering her apartment, [Katsav] used force to push Aleph against a clothes closet and tried to press his body against hers."
On another occasion, mildly described in the second indictment as "trying to press his body against hers in a place outside the ministry office," Mazuz had written, "Aleph entered the [Plaza Hotel] room and sat down on the corner of the bed. [Katsav] approached her, pushed her down and made her lie on the bed, stripped off her pants and underwear, opened his own pants, lay down on top of her and forcibly inserted his sexual organ into hers."
According to another paragraph in the original indictment, which is not mentioned in the second one, "Aleph sat down on a chair. [Katsav] sat down beside her, touched her breasts and tried to pull down her pants. Aleph resisted and pulled her pants back up. The two began to struggle. [Katsav] threw Aleph down on the floor, forcibly removed her pants, opened his own, forcibly spread her legs apart and inserted his sexual organ into hers. All that time, Aleph demanded that [Katsav] stop."
During the court hearings, Beinisch made it clear that what troubles her is the fact that the charges included in the first and second indictments are based on completely different descriptions of the facts, even though both descriptions are supposedly based on the same evidence.