Sat, Mar 14, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Former Israeli president Katsav calls sex-related charges political ‘lynching’

AFP , JERUSALEM

Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav, left, and his wife, Gila, walk together before a news conference in Kiryat Malachi, Israel, on Thursday.

PHOTO:AP

Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav said on Thursday he was being lynched by politicians and the media over sex-related charges that forced him to resign in disgrace last year.

With his wife Gila at his side, Katsav told a press conference in their hometown of Kyriat Malachi that he was innocent and would prove it.

“I am the victim of a lynching organized by the judicial counselor of the government [Menahem] Mazouz, the police, politicians and the media,” Katsav said in the televised press conference.

“My honor, and that of my family, has been attacked for the past three years. I have been humiliated, crushed, knocked down and I suffer. But I am determined to fight to ensure that the truth emerges, all the truth, because I am innocent.”

SAGA

Mazouz, who is also attorney general, announced on Sunday that Katsav will be indicted on charges including rape in the latest act of a years-long saga.

Katsav said the “institutions of the state have joined together against me on the basis of false testimony, contradictory facts, lies, fabricated evidence and, above all, baseless rumors.”

Mazouz’s announcement marked the latest chapter in an affair that began in 2006, when Katsav claimed a former employee was trying to blackmail him.

An investigation resulted in the woman accusing the president of raping her while she was his secretary in the late 1990s.

The accusations and the months of investigations that followed saw Katsav embroiled in the worst scandal ever to befall an Israeli leader as other women leveled similar charges.

REMOVAL

Amid the uproar, Katsav removed himself from duties in January 2007, following a very public row with the state prosecution.

Last February, the Supreme Court accepted a highly controversial plea deal and Katsav was charged with sexually harassing two women and performing indecent acts.

But when he went on trial on April 8 last year, he announced that he was withdrawing from the agreement.

If convicted of rape charges, Katsav could face up to 16 years in jail and would become Israel’s first head of state convicted of sex offences.

He is already the second president to be forced out by scandal.

The late Ezer Weizman was forced to resign in 2000 over revelations he received around US$450,000 from a French millionaire while a minister and lawmaker.

This story has been viewed 1922 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top