Court to hear challenges to Katsav plea bargain

State issues response to plea bargain petitions, criticizes Aleph's lawyers for using "vulgar language."

Katsav 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Katsav 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The state on Sunday rejected allegations that it has ignored the professional knowledge accumulated over the years about sexual crimes and that this knowledge explained the apparent contradictions in the testimony of the two women who accused former president Moshe Katsav of raping them. The allegations against the state prosecution were included in the summary arguments of the Association of Women's Support Groups, one of the groups included in a petition calling on the High Court of Justice to reject the plea bargain reached between the state and Katsav's lawyers, Zion Amir and Avigdor Feldman. The state submitted its summary arguments on the eve of a High Court hearing scheduled to hear six petitions against the plea bargain and other decisions made by the state regarding the criminal probe of Katsav for alleged sexual misconduct and other crimes. The High Court hearing is scheduled for Tuesday. The state's response addressed an opinion submitted recently on behalf of the Association of Women's Support Groups by Zvia Seligman, an expert on victims of sexual crimes. Seligman wrote that the "psychological conduct" typical of victims of such crimes explained the contradictions in the testimony of the two key witnesses in the investigation - the "first Aleph," who worked in Beit Hanassi, and the "second Aleph," who worked in the Tourism Ministry when Katsav was minister. The state decided to drop the charges involving the first Aleph altogether because of alleged contradictions in her testimony. It also decided to drop the two rape charges that it had originally considered filing against Katsav regarding the second Aleph because of alleged difficulties it encountered in her testimony. In the case of the second Aleph, the state reached a plea bargain with Katsav's lawyers in which the former president pleaded guilty to less serious crimes involving her. In its response to Seligman, the state representatives, attorneys Shai Nitzan, Dina Zilber and Ran Nazri wrote that it was the state that brought in Seligman and another psychologist to consult with them about the case. After hearing them, however, the prosecutors concluded that the psychologists input was not enough resolve the problems in the witnesses' testimony. The state also sharply criticized the lawyers representing the first Aleph, Kineret Barashi and Yehuda Ressler, for allegedly stooping to vulgar language in attacking Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz for signing the plea agreement. "How do the first Aleph's lawyers choose to deal with the truth," the state representatives wrote. "By using vulgar language that dishonors those who use it and resorting to tasteless imagery such as, 'The attorney-general and the state attorney's office raped the evidence.'"