Key witness testifies in Katsav trial

Key witness in rape tria

"Tourism Ministry Aleph," the key witness in the rape trial of former president Moshe Katsav, testified Tuesday behind close doors in the Tel Aviv District Court. In the state's indictment against Katsav, he is accused of twice raping Aleph, who worked for him during the time he served as tourism minister between 1996 and 1999. He is also charged with one count of using force to perform an indecent act against her. The first count of rape involves an incident which took place in April 1998. Katsav is charged with bringing Aleph to his office in Tel Aviv, forcing her down on the ground and pulling down her slacks even though she resisted. He then allegedly pinned her to the ground with his body and had intercourse with her. The second incident occurred on June 17, 1998, when he asked her to come to the Jerusalem Plaza Hotel, where he was staying, on the pretext that he had work to do. He called her up to the room where she found him only partly dressed. Aleph sat on the edge of the bed to wait for him, but Katsav allegedly forced her over on her back, tore her clothes and had intercourse against her will. The trial has been conducted behind closed doors at the request of the state, which said it wanted to protect the privacy of the women who were testifying against Katsav. So far, the two other women whose complaints were included in the indictment, and four others, whose complaints could not be included because of the statute of limitations, have testified against Katsav. The trial opened on May 14 and witnesses' testimony began on September 1. Hearings are scheduled to take place three times a week.