Katsav fails to reply to charges against him

Defense lawyers insist they haven't received all relevant material.

Katsav 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Katsav 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Former president Moshe Katsav failed to obey a court order to submit his response to the state's indictment by noon on Sunday, and instead demanded that the attorney-general grant his lawyers another hearing and hand over more investigative material. Katsav is charged with two counts of rape, one count of committing an indecent act using force, one count of committing an indecent act, two counts of sexual harassment, one count of harassing a witness and one count of obstructing justice. His written response was originally supposed to have been submitted to Tel Aviv District Court on June 14. On that day, the lawyers filed a request to delay their response by two weeks, citing the fact that they had been too busy with other legal procedures regarding the case to prepare their response on time. The court granted them one week, ordering them to respond by noon on June 21. One of the procedures the lawyers were busy with was their request to be discharged from the case on the grounds that the court had scheduled hearings four days a week as of September 1. They claimed they would not be able to defend Katsav properly if hearings were held one day after the next, nor would they be able to fulfill their responsibilities towards other clients. The district court rejected the request and the lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court, which is due to hear the appeal on Wednesday. Avraham Lavie, one of Katsav's lawyers, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that the former president was entitled to a new hearing in the wake of the investigation police conducted after Katsav, on April 8, 2008, canceled the plea bargain he had originally agreed to. Eleven months elapsed between the cancellation of the plea bargain and the filing of the indictment against Katsav. Another of the former president's lawyers, Zion Amir, told the district court on the opening day of the trial, May 14, that he intended to ask for such a hearing. Meanwhile, the state's representative, Ronit Amiel, told the court on the opening day of the trial that the prosecution had handed over all the investigative material to the defense. Katsav's lawyers insist they have not yet received it all. The indictment against Katsav was filed on March 19 and the trial was originally scheduled to begin in April. On April 16, his lawyers asked for a postponement and their request was granted. The trial was rescheduled for May 14. On May 7, the lawyers asked for another postponement. This time the request was turned down and the trial opened as scheduled. After the presentation of the indictment, the lawyers asked for time to prepare their response in writing. They were given 30 days. When time was up, they asked for two more weeks; as noted, the court granted them one week. In the interim, on April 30, the lawyers filed a petition to the High Court of Justice, asking it to order police to investigate leaks from Katsav's investigation. On May 13, one day before the opening of the trial, they asked that it be moved from Tel Aviv to Beersheba or Jerusalem. The request was rejected. On June 1, the lawyers asked the court to allow them to resign from the case.