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Israel president rejects AG call for suspension pending criminal probe

[JURIST] Israeli President Moshe Katsav [official website] Sunday evening rejected a recommendation issued earlier in the day by Israeli Attorney General Menahem Mazuz [official profile] that he voluntarily suspend his presidential duties pending the conclusion of a criminal investigation into alleged sexual harassment. In a legal opinion, Mazuz had informed [YNet report] the country's Supreme Court [official website] that the president must "consider suspending himself from duty by asking parliament to declare him temporarily incapacitated." The recommendation came after the court last week urged Mazuz to quickly decide whether the president will be formally indicted [JURIST report] on rape, sexual harassment, wire-tapping, and other charges [JURIST report]. Rejecting the allegations against him, Katsav said in an official statement quoted by the Jerusalem Post, "It is the duty of the authorities in the country to do everything to dig up the truth and not to allow the media lynch to ruin their investigation."

Police initially recommended the indictment following a three-month investigation covering at least 10 complaints against Katsav by former employees. The Israeli presidency, which Katsav has occupied since 2000, is largely ceremonial with real power vested in the prime minister [official website]. Reuters has more. The Jerusalem Post has local coverage.

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