Mazuz sets Katsav's hearing for May 2 to consider indictment

The hearing date is the first official confirmation that Mazuz is considering filing an indictment.

Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz ended months of speculation Wednesday when he told the Knesset that he had set a May 2 hearing date for President Moshe Katsav over allegations that he raped and sexually harassed several women. The hearing date is the first official confirmation that Mazuz is considering filing an indictment. Mazuz added that Katsav, who is currently under a self-requested temporary suspension until mid-April, would need to receive another temporary suspension from the Knesset before the hearing date. Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik is filling in as acting president during Katsav's suspension. "The hearing process itself is short, but the decision process is not necessarily short and depends on the testimony," Mazuz said. "There will be a definite need to prolong the suspension period, unless a decision to remove the president from office is made by the Knesset." Mazuz was at the Knesset House Committee's second chaotic meeting to discuss the impeachment of Katsav. While the first meeting last week erupted in arguments, Wednesday's meeting was even more tumultuous, with three MKs being evicted and several more voluntarily stepping out of the room when the discussion got too heated. At the center of the arguments was whether or not the Knesset should take it upon itself to impeach the president, and how the procedure for the impeachment should proceed. Mazuz added fuel to that fire when he told the committee that he was not sure if the procedure set down by the committee's legal adviser was "clear and legal." "There are some important points that require clarification… the meaning of 'indecent behavior' would need to be defined," said Mazuz. Mazuz added that the committee could not vote to impeach Katsav until the president had been given a chance to defend himself. According to a poll conducted by The Jerusalem Post, there is currently no majority to indict Katsav in the committee or plenum. Nineteen of the 25 committee MKs would need to vote in favor of impeachment and 90 of 120 plenum members. Currently the United Torah Judaism Party, and most of the Shas and Israel Beiteinu Parties would vote against impeachment.