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Israel ex-president to be indicted on rape, sexual assault charges

[JURIST] Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] will be indicted on rape charges for allegedly assaulting several female employees in the 1990s, according to an announcement by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz on Sunday. Katsav will face charges [Haaretz report] of raping one woman while he served as minister of tourism and sexually assaulting two others during his presidency. Katsav's brother denounced the charges as false [Haaretz report], claiming Mazuz was unduly influenced. Women's rights organizations welcomed the decision [Haaretz report] to bring charges.

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.

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