Katsav trial postponed for 2 weeks

Prosecution agrees to request by ex-president's lawyers to see all evidence gathered by police.

The long-awaited day when former president Moshe Katsav was to admit in public for the first time that he committed sexual crimes against women who worked for him was postponed for two weeks on Tuesday, a day before his trial was scheduled to begin. Katsav's lawyers, Zion Amir, Avigdor Feldman and Avraham Lavi, have demanded to see all the evidence gathered by police during the investigation of their client before the trial starts in the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court. Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen told The Jerusalem Post that the prosecution had agreed to the request. The lawyers received most of the evidence in preparation for the hearing that Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz granted Katsav in May 2007. Katsav's lawyers had demanded that the prosecution hand over all of the material, but the state refused. The lawyers then petitioned the High Court of Justice to be given the rest of the material. The court rejected the petition. Now, on the eve of Katsav's criminal trial, the defense has raised the demand again. According to Cohen, the evidence that the defense has not seen yet is "unimportant and irrelevant." This was even truer today, he said, since the defense and prosecution had already reached a plea bargain and agreed on the charges against Katsav. However, Feldman told the Post that the case was not yet completely resolved because there was still the possibility that the court would reject the one-year suspended sentence recommended by the defense and the state in the plea bargain, and there still remained the open question of whether the crimes for which Katsav was being indicted involved moral turpitude. "Maybe we will find evidence to support our position on both these matters," Feldman said. "Why walk in the dark when it is possible to walk in the light?" Cohen said that the state prosecution had given in on the evidence because it did not want to jeopardize the plea bargain. Katsav's trial was due to open on Wednesday at 2 p.m. before an expanded panel of three judges. Originally, the court was to have read out the indictment, based on a plea bargain between the defense and the prosecution, and Katsav was to have pleaded guilty to the charges. According to the indictment, Katsav is accused of committing an indecent act without consent through the use of pressure, sexual harassment and harassing a witness.