[JURIST] Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was indicted Thursday on two counts of rape for allegedly assaulting several female employees in the 1990s. The indictment, which was filed in Tel Aviv District Court, charges [Jerusalem Post report] Katsav with two counts of rape, multiple counts of sexual harassment and forced indecent acts, and witness intimidation. The alleged rapes were committed while Katsav was the minister of tourism, while the other alleged acts were committed while Katsav served as president. A Katsav adviser decried the charges [Haaretz report], saying that the evidence against Katsav does not support the charges, and that the indictment was brought against the recommendation of a number of leading Israeli jurists.
The Katsav indictment was announced [JURIST report] two weeks ago by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz. Katsav was originally accused of rape [JURIST report] and sexual assault in 2006. In April, Katsav rejected a controversial plea agreement [JURIST reports], under which he would have been permitted to plead guilty to lesser sex charges of indecent assault, sexual harassment, and obstruction of justice, in exchange for a suspended sentence and the dropping of the rape charges. The deal was heavily criticized [JURIST report] by women's and civil rights activists when it was first made public in 2007. A victim and several rights organizations filed five separate petitions [Haaretz report] to overturn the agreement, arguing that it was contrary to public interest, had no legal reason, and injured the principal of equality before the law. Despite the criticism, Mazuz defended the agreement as necessary to protect the office of the presidency from further injury and spare the country from embarrassment. Katsav resigned the presidency in 2007.