Mon, Oct 16, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Israeli president likely to face indictment

UNDER FIRE Moshe Kastav was facing the fight of his life as an investigation into alleged sexual harrassment, eavesdropping and pardons for cash came to conclusion

AP , JERUSALEM

Palestinian youths gather around a damaged car after an Israeli missile strike in Gaza city on Saturday.

PHOTO: AFP

Wrapping up a months long investigation into sexual harassment and other charges, police are expected to recommend that charges be filed against Israeli President Moshe Katsav, officials said yesterday.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed that police investigators were to meet with state prosecutors yesterday to present their recommendations.

A senior investigator said there was enough evidence to indict the president on "some of the matters" that were investigated.

The investigator, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media, declined to elaborate.

But the investigation has included questioning on allegations of sexual harassment, electronic eavesdropping and granting pardons in exchange for cash.

The final decision on whether to go to trial is up to Israel's attorney general.

Katsav has denied all wrongdoing. However, if indicted he would likely have to step aside. In Israel, the president holds a largely ceremonial role with little authority.

Israel Radio and Channel 2 TV said the case against Katsav is based on complaints by five women who allege he made unwanted sexual advances toward them during his tenure as president and before that, as a government minister.

Complaints by five other women are not being pursued because the statute of limitations has run out, the reports said.

The investigation of Katsav began earlier this year after a former employee alleged he forced her to have sex under the threat of dismissal. Police repeatedly questioned Katsav at his official residence and seized personal documents.

In other developments, Israeli troops killed seven Palestinian gunmen in airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

Aircraft fired three missiles at a car carrying two militants on Saturday afternoon, killing at least one, Palestinian security officials said.

The Israeli army said the strike targeted militants with ties to the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. An official said the men had launched rocket attacks at Israel.

Earlier on Saturday, a missile strike killed six gunmen from the Islamic militant group Hamas, Palestinian security officials said.

Fifteen people were wounded in those strikes east of Gaza City. Witnesses said ambulances driving to the scene came under fire from Israeli soldiers.

More than a dozen Israeli tanks also moved in the area, and security officials reported exchanges of fire between the Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen.

The Israeli military said the early morning clash began when militants fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli bulldozer.

Troops responded with fire from the air and the ground. The Israeli army has confirmed that its troops hit a group of Palestinian gunmen.

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