Petitioners demand to see copy of original indictment against Katsav

The Movement for Quality Government (MQG), the Women's Network and several other women's organizations on Sunday demanded that the state publish a copy of the original indictment against former president Moshe Katsav that was later dropped in favor of a plea bargain including watered-down charges. The organizations, which have petitioned the High Court of Justice to overrule the agreement reached between the state and Katsav's lawyers, asked it to order the state to produce the draft indictment before a High Court hearing scheduled for Tuesday. During that hearing, the court will consider requests by these petitioners and several others for an interim injunction barring Jerusalem Magistrate's Court from accepting the plea bargain until the High Court deals with the petitioners' requests to cancel it. In its latest request to the High Court, the MQG and the women's organizations charged that the state had failed to explain why it had made such a drastic turnaround between the draft indictment, including two charges of rape, and the actual indictment. Meanwhile, in another development, Army Radio reported on Sunday that the "first Aleph" told police she had had an affair with Katsav's driver and that they had been a couple for three months. The radio published a transcript of the questioning in which the "first Aleph" admitted to the affair and even added that the driver, identified as "Mem," had called her from the president's office. In response to the report, one of Katsav's lawyers, Avi Lavie, charged that the attempt to attribute all 689 phone calls made from the president's office to Katsav, as reported last week, was meant to distort the truth and influence the judges. "Instead of presenting to the court with the evidence for supporting its arguments," the petitioners wrote, "the state's response is like a plea to the court to shut its eyes and take no measures to open the 'black box' which the state had provided when it argued that the court's long-standing policy was not to intervene in decisions made by the state attorney on the basis of the evidence before him." The petitioners charged that the response had added nothing to the generalized arguments that he had presented during a live press conference given immediately after the plea bargain was signed. Rather than explain its decision, the state argued that it was the court's long-standing policy not to interfere in the state attorney's decision. "Instead of providing the public and the court with tools for examining the worthiness of its position, the state preferred, for the most part of its reply to the petitions, to grasp the [protective] umbrella of opposition to court intervention in the state's decision."