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Former Justice Minister Haim Ramon and "Alef," the women who accused him of forcibly inserting his tongue into her mouth, met face-to-face in the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on Tuesday, for the first time since the July 12 incident that led to the MK's indictment.
The confrontation took place behind closed doors during the first day of testimony in Ramon's trial, which began on September 11. The hearing was devoted to questioning Alef and went on for seven hours. It is scheduled to continue on Wednesday.
The plaintiff, who had just returned from a trip abroad that began soon after the alleged incident, was spirited into the courtroom through judges' chambers and back rooms so that she would not have to face reporters and photographers waiting in the main hallway.
Ramon, accompanied by his girlfriend, Vered Sharon-Rivlin, entered the courtroom through the front door but refused to answer questions. He also declined to comment after the hearing was over.
According to the indictment, the incident involves Alef, a 21-year-old soldier working in the Prime Minister's Office in Tel Aviv. Ramon arrived at the office for a meeting that was scheduled to take place to discuss the kidnapping of two soldiers by Hizbullah early that morning.
Alef, who was celebrating her last day in the army, asked him to pose for a picture with her. She went to get a camera while Ramon walked into an empty adjacent room. Another soldier then took two photos of them embracing. After the photographer left, she released her arms and turned to leave the room.
Ramon allegedly held on to her with one arm and brought her close. With the fingers of his other hand, he allegedly seized her cheek, brought his head toward hers and kissed her on the lips while inserting his tongue into her mouth.
During the first hearing last month, Ramon's lawyer, Dan Scheineman, denied the charges. Scheineman said that as soon as Ramon arrived at the Prime Minister's Office, the soldier "started up" with him. She allegedly told him she couldn't resist him and jokingly asked him to join her on her post-army trip.
The pictures that the other soldier took of Ramon and the plaintiff show her smiling broadly with one arm around his back and one resting on his stomach.
After the photographs were taken, Ramon went into an adjoining room. Alef came in to talk to him and bent over so that he could better hear. The two then kissed by mutual consent, Scheineman said, and Ramon broke the kiss off after two or three seconds. He said Ramon did not remember touching her with his tongue, but if he did so, it was on her lips and not inside her mouth.