A-G approves continued probe of president

The country's top law-enforcement officials, Attorney General Menahem Mazuz and Police Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi, have approved the continuation of the investigation into contradictory allegations made by President Moshe Katsav and a former employee, "A." Police Intelligence and Investigation division head Cmdr. Yohanan Danino was also present at the meeting on Monday evening, during which the investigative team headed by Lt.-Cmdr. Yoav Segelovich presented evidence gathered from more than 10 hours spent questioning Katsav, as well as testimony from A and others. Police have been investigating Katsav's assertions that A was attempting to blackmail him and his denials of her claims that the president had sexual contact with her while she worked at Beit Hanassi. Earlier in the day, MK Ruhama Avraham (Kadima), the chairwoman of the Knesset House Committee, asked Mazuz for a legal opinion on limiting Katsav's authority while he is under investigation. Avraham joined former Supreme Court vice president Mishael Cheshin in questioning whether Katsav should be allowed to issue pardons or swear in officials. The House Committee has the authority to impeach the president if it receives a signed request from 20 MKs. MK Yoram Marciano (Labor) has already gathered at least a dozen signatures calling for Katsav's impeachment. "I believe the attorney general should advise the president at this time as he did [Haim] Ramon," said Avraham. Ramon, who is also under investigation, has resigned as justice minister. Avraham also hinted that she would not act to impeach the president until the allegations against him were resolved. Investigators said after the Mazuz-Karadi meeting that Katsav would probably not undergo a polygraph test, but that he would be questioned on "a few more occasions." Police would not rule out the possibility of staging a confrontation between Katsav and A. There were frequent interruptions during the two-hour meeting caused by telephone calls to Mazuz from the Prime Minister's Office regarding Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's announcement about the establishment of multiple committees to investigate the war against Hizbullah. Karadi and Mazuz also discussed allegations made by Katsav's legal team that the police had been behind leaks to the press designed to harm the president. Following the meeting, Mazuz's office said he and Karadi had full confidence in the professionalism of the police investigation and were certain the officers had not been the sources of the leaks to the media. Later, representatives of both Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu and Israel Beiteinu called Olmert's announcement of the inquiry committees "a joke."