'Aleph' calls for Katsav confrontation

'Beit Hanassi Aleph' petitions High Court to instruct Mazuz to explain his refusal to hold meeting.

Katsav 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Katsav 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
'Beit Hanassi Aleph', the woman whose affair with then-president Moshe Katsav first triggered the police investigation against him, petitioned the High Court of Justice on Wednesday to instruct Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz to explain why he has not allowed the police to hold a confrontation between herself and Katsav. Aleph's attorneys stated that such a confrontation should be held as part of the follow-up investigations being conducted ahead of the filing of a new indictment against the former president. Beit Hanassi Aleph was left out of the previous version of the indictment prepared as part of the plea bargain with Katsav, due to what Mazuz called contradictions in her testimony. With a new indictment on the way following Katsav's rejection of the plea bargain, Aleph's attorneys said they believe that holding a confrontation could shed light on those contradictions, perhaps leading Mazuz to change his mind. The Katsav affair began when the president asked for a meeting with Mazuz on July 5, 2006, and told him that a woman who worked at Beit Hanassi had threatened to blackmail him unless he paid her $200,000. Katsav said he had a cassette of the phone call during which she had made the threat but did not hand it over to the attorney-general or make a formal complaint. The woman in question was Beit Hanassi Aleph. A week later, Mazuz ordered police to investigate the allegation. At the end of the first phase of the investigation, in January 2007, Mazuz announced that he planned to indict Katsav on a series of serious sexual crime charges involving four women, conditional on the outcome of a hearing to be granted the president's lawyers. One of the women included in the draft indictment was Beit Hanassi Aleph. Throughout this phase of the investigation, she was the best known to the public of all eight women who eventually complained to the police against Katsav's conduct. Together with her lawyer, Kinneret Barashi, she seemed to symbolize the entire affair and helped galvanize public and media anger against Katsav. The draft indictment against Katsav regarding Beit Hanassi Aleph included forbidden intercourse by exploiting his authority in employment or service, committing an indecent act without her consent, committing an indecent act by exploiting his authority in employment or service, and sexual harassment. Five months later, after granting the hearing to Katsav's lawyers, Mazuz announced that the sides had reached a plea bargain agreement including an indictment in which almost all the serious charges against Katsav were dropped and only two of the complainants who had appeared in the draft remained in the actual indictment. Beit Hanassi Aleph was not one of them. A few days later, Barashi petitioned the High Court of Justice against Mazuz's decision to omit her client from the indictment. Mazuz was forced to explain to the court why he had decided to do so. In one of his responses, Mazuz wrote that the state prosecution had found contradictions between Beit Hanassi Aleph's version of events and those of other witnesses, that there were internal contradictions in her version, and that objective evidence also contradicted her version. 'The decision to close the file in this case was made after an examination of all the evidence related to the affair and after the prosecution came to the conclusion that it could not determine that the case passed the threshold of reasonable chance of conviction,' the state wrote.