Petitioners: State failed to satisfy on Katsav Deal

They described the threshold of aceptance as "imaginary"

The Movement for Quality Government (MQG) and several women's organizations charged on Monday that the state did not provide a satisfactory response to any of the five key points raised in a petition calling on the High Court of Justice to reject the plea bargain agreed to by the state prosecutor and former president Moshe Katsav. The charge was included in the watchdog and women's groups' response to the state's reply to six petitions challenging the legality of the plea bargain. Meanwhile, Yehuda Ressler, who is representing the "first Aleph" in two of the six petitions, along with Attorney Kinneret Barashi, told The Jerusalem Post that the court had extended the deadline for them to submit their response until Wednesday. On Sunday, the Courts Administration announced that a panel of five justices headed by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch would hear on Tuesday the petitioners' request for an interim injunction to prohibit the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court from accepting the state's watered-down indictment and plea bargain until the court ruled on their main request to nullify the plea bargain altogether. In their response, the MQG, the Women's Network, Kolech, The Association of Support Centers, Wizo and Na'amat all maintained that the state had not replied to their charges that the plea bargain was extremely unreasonable, that it seriously hurt the principle of equality, that it damaged the right of the women who had been hurt by Katsav to state their case, that it took into account factors having nothing to do with the issue at hand and that Katsav had violated the plea bargain by refusing to take responsibility for his deeds. Regarding the allegation that the plea bargain was unreasonable, the petitioners maintained that never before had 10 different women complained about sexual misconduct by Katsav. Despite that fact, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz had decided not to file harsher charges against Katsav. Furthermore, the state had not given a satisfactory explanation as to why it felt it had a strong enough case to charge Katsav with rape, yet settled for lesser charges when the defense expressed interest in a plea bargain. Addressing the issue of inequality, the petitioners charged that in Katsav's case the state had set extremely high criteria - compared to other suspects - for determining whether the evidence was strong enough to convince the court that he was guilty. They described the threshold of acceptance as "imaginary" and warned that setting such a high threshold could serve as a "harmful" precedent for future complaints by women.