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Israel president may face rape, sex harassment charges after police probe
Israel president may face rape, sex harassment charges after police probe

[JURIST] Israeli police have recommended that the Israeli attorney general indict President Moshe Katsav [official profile] on charges of rape, sexual harassment, indecent acts using force, and indecent acts without consent following their three-month investigation of at least 10 complaints against Katsav brought by former employees. A police source told the press Sunday that at least four or five of the cases are strong enough to support an indictment, and that evidence also exists to bring charges of grand larceny, fraud and breach of trust, and illegal wiretapping. Katsav's lawyer expressed surprise [Jerusalem Post report] at the scope of the charges, and said the president will resign if indicted [Haaretz report]. The lawyer also reminded the press, however, that the police have recommended charges against every prime minister investigated over the last 10 years, though none were ever brought to trial.

Legal commentators have called for Katsav's resignation [YNet report], and Israeli Attorney General Menahem Mazuz [official profile] has privately said that Katsav should take a leave of absence until a decision is made on whether Katsav will be indicted. Mazuz will decide whether to bring an indictment after a team of prosecutors reviews the evidence, which could take one month or longer. Israeli Education Minister Yuli Tamir [official profile] on Monday suggested that if Katsav refuses to resign, the Knesset should initiate impeachment procedures [Haaretz report] against him.

Katsav announced Monday that he will not attend the opening session of Knesset [Jerusalem Post report] to give the traditional opening speech. Knesset members had threatened to boycott if Katsav attended. AFP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.