Police told to 'touch up' Katsav case
Police had hoped Monday meeting would mark end of investigation.
By REBECCA ANNA STOIL, DAN IZENBERG
October 9, 2006 14:28
2 minute read.
(photo credit: )
Despite the mandatory vacation that closed government offices' doors during the Succot holiday week, the lights at the Justice Ministry blazed into the night as some of the country's top legal officials met to discuss the future of the case building against President Moshe Katsav.
Although police had hoped that the Monday meeting would mark the end of the investigation against the president, State's Attorney Eran Shendar sent the investigative team led by Lt. Cmdr. Yoav Segelovich back to put final touches on the investigation before it was handed over to the Jerusalem District Attorney's office.
For a Jerusalem Online video of events click here
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Even as the police band played outside the presidential succah Monday afternoon, detectives completed taking testimony from potential witnesses. Over one hundred such witnesses have been interviewed by the detectives since the start of the investigation in July.
For the past three months, police have investigated claims that Katsav committed several acts of sexual misconduct - ranging from harassment to rape - against women while they were employed by him in various government offices.
Although at least eight women complained to the police, sources within the investigation said that they would recommend indictments related to the allegations made by four of the women. The complaints made by at least three of the women fall outside of the statute of limitations for prosecution for such offenses.
Police had been investigating a total of 14 potential sets of charges against the president, including the sexual misconduct allegations, as well as other claims that he sold clemency to criminals in exchange for cash placed in foreign bank accounts, and engaged in a myriad of other offenses including fraud, breach of trust, and wiretapping. As of Monday, it seemed unlikely that the president would be indicted for any of those charges.
Three weeks ago, the investigative team delivered its interim report to Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz and Shendar. Following that report, police said that they believed that 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.
In the meeting's aftermath, most of the evidence gathered by the police since the investigation began in July was conveyed to Jerusalem District Attorney Eli Abarbanel, and district prosecutors have been studying the material ever since.
Estimates are that Abarbanel, who was the state prosecution's referent during the police investigation and followed it at close quarters, will submit his recommendation to Mazuz in less than one month.
Mazuz is awaiting the police conclusions even though Abarbanel and his team have already begun sifting through the bulk of the evidence in order to present their recommendation to him.
In the final analysis, it will be Mazuz who decides whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant an indictment against the president and, if so, what the charges will be. Mazuz, who has made it a key point of his term in office not to allow investigations to continue interminably, will probably hand down the final decision on the Katzav affair within a few weeks of receiving the material from Abarbanel.
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