Lador: Prosecution still investigating Katsav

Asked why the investigation was taking so long, Lador replied, "We had to make correct decisions that had not been made before."

Katsav 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Katsav 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Seven months after former president Moshe Katsav withdrew from the plea bargain he had reached with the state, the prosecution and the police are still investigating the allegations against him, State Attorney Moshe Lador said on Friday. Speaking at the annual conference of the Netanya Academic College and the Israel Forum of Law and Society, Lador said the state prosecution had not completed its investigation of Katsav when the former president's lawyers proposed the plea bargain. After Katsav reneged on the agreement in April, the prosecution had to pick up where it had left off. Asked why the investigation was taking so long, Lador replied, "We had to make correct decisions that had not been made before. And this had to be done in the shadow of the differences of opinion within the team that had been investigating the case and between that team and the senior echelon of the prosecution." The prosecution had no choice but to hand over the case to another attorney who then needed time to study the file and complete the investigation, Lador said. The evidence gathered up until the plea bargain was "borderline and problematic," he added. He implied that the prosecution hoped to strengthen its case against Katsav through the additional investigations it was currently carrying out, but gave no indication of how long it would take to complete them. All he said was, "all of us read the newspapers and are aware of how much the public wants these decisions to be made as quickly as possible." Lador said the prosecution had been forced to take a much more active role outside the courtroom because of the changing nature of judicial procedures in the past few years, thanks to the role of the media. He said that when he joined the state prosecution, he was taught that prosecutors only spoke in the courtroom. Now, the "battle to get across the true story" takes place to a large extent outside the courtroom, he said. It is not only reporters that are more active. Now, defense lawyers and public relations people also use the media to get their case across directly to the public and indirectly to the judges. "What happens inside the courtroom is sometimes less important," Lador said. "We have to be in the picture from the moment the investigation begins until the very end of the trial." Nevertheless, Lador denied that the police and the state prosecution were responsible for most of the leaks to the media investigations. "The public is very mistaken in thinking otherwise," he said. Often, the suspect had an interest in leaking information, he said. Witnesses who were summoned for questioning also had information about the case and might have their own reasons for divulging it, he said. Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, who also spoke at the conference, was asked about her opposition to allowing the Judges Election Committee to fill vacancies in the district and magistrate's courts. Beinisch said that once new elections had been declared, there was no doubt that no new appointments could be made. Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz himself said so prior to the 2006 elections. Beinisch also accused Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann of cancelling three meetings of the Judges Election Committee during the year in which the vacancies could have been filled. She said she had warned him before new elections were called that they appeared to be in the offing and that he ought to convene the committee to fill the vacancies while there was still time. Beinisch added that although there was no doubt the new judges were needed, there were a total of only 15 vacancies in the entire judicial system, which totals 600 judges. Thus, the problem was not as severe as Friedmann had made it out to be.