'Aleph' wants in on Katsav indictment

Original charges by the woman who was first to file complaint were dropped by Mazuz in plea bargain.

aleph 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
aleph 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
'Beit Hanassi Aleph,' the woman whose affair with then-president Moshe Katsav first triggered the police investigation against him, wants to be included in the new indictment that the state will likely file against him, her lawyer said Wednesday. After hearing Katsav's statement to the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Tuesday, announcing that he was withdrawing from the plea bargain, attorney Eldad Yaniv wrote to Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz asking for a meeting. "In the wake of Katsav's withdrawal, and in accordance with my client's rights, of which one, but not the only one, stems from the provisions of the Rights of Crime Victims Law, I ask you to schedule a meeting with me to reexamine your position regarding the formulation of a new (old) indictment and that you will grant my client the basic right to stand on her rights." Yaniv also asked Mazuz for permission to review all the evidence gathered by the police regarding his client, evidence that ultimately convinced the prosecution not to include Beit Hanassi Aleph in the actual indictment against Katsav. 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, on January 23, 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. According to criminal law expert and Haifa University professor Emmanuel Gross, the law prohibits the prosecution from filing a criminal charge unless it believes it has "a reasonable chance of conviction." Yaniv will now try to persuade Mazuz that he was mistaken in his earlier assessment of the evidence regarding his client.