Katsav lawyers: Ministry leaked material

Former president's attorneys petition HCJ for police probe; say information handed out to help indict him.

Katsav 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Katsav 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Former President Moshe Katsav's lawyers petitioned the High Court of Justice on Thursday to force the attorney-general to order a police investigation into who leaked an official Justice Ministry DVD to an unnamed, prominent media outlet. The DVD contained all of the material gathered by police in their investigation of the allegations against Katsav. The lawyers - Avigdor Feldman, Zion Amir and Avraham Lavie - charged in the petition that the person who leaked the material may also have influenced the state prosecution's decision to indict Katsav on two charges of rape and other sexual offenses. They pointed out that for many months after Katsav rejected the plea bargain in April 2008, the prosecution had been sorely divided over whether to bring him to trial or close the file. "This harsh disagreement among the prosecutors in formulating a position regarding [Katsav] is relevant to the subject of this petition," the lawyers wrote. "It is possible that the disagreement convinced the leaker to create this rotten fruit in the form of a leaked DVD with the unacceptable aim of putting pressure on the state to indict [Katsav], as in fact happened, despite their difficulties with the evidence." They also accused Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz of breaking an alleged promise to order a police investigation if they could offer "a preliminary factual basis" justifying such an investigation. When the lawyers delivered a copy of the DVD, the attorney-general did not go to the police, but conducted an internal Justice Ministry investigation. At the end of the investigation, Mazuz informed the lawyers that the ministry had failed to find a "specific" person who had transferred the DVD. The lawyers charged that he should have handed the investigation over to the police immediately after receiving the copy of the DVD, instead of examining the matter himself. The Justice Ministry did not provide a response to the allegations in the petition. However, according to a letter written by Mazuz, the media outlet was in possession of the leaked DVD no later than July 4, 2007. At that time, the state and Katsav had agreed to a plea bargain, and there was no question about whether to indict Katsav on the far more serious rape charges. The dispute within the state prosecution only began after the plea bargain fell apart in April 2008. Asked about the time discrepancy between the leak of the DVD and the disagreement in the state prosecution, Amir told The Jerusalem Post, "Whoever leaked the DVD always had the same interest in persuading the state prosecution to indict Katsav. It was a continuous and consistent policy."