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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Presidential rape case improved, say prosecuters

The rape case against former president Katsav is likely to drag out in many years of legal maneuvers, broken plea bargains and other problems. Katsav will eventually prove he is too old to stand trial or some witnesses will get "amnesia."
Give us a break.
Ami Isseroff  
Last update - 06:04 10/04/2008       
Katsav case in better shape now, says senior judicial source
By Tomer Zarchin
The working assumption at the State Prosecutor's Office is that a fresh indictment will be filed against former president Moshe Katsav ascribing to him, among other charges, the rape of the former Tourism Ministry employee known as A., but excluding charges relating to another A., a former President's Residence employee, a senior judicial official said yesterday.
Over the next few days, the state prosecution will ask the police to conduct a few additional inquiries, on matters in the case that were earlier designated "nonessential." The need for this brief additional investigation stems from the hearing that Katsav's lawyers were accorded with Attorney General Menachem Mazuz before striking the plea bargain that their client canceled on Tuesday.
Work on the new charge sheet will begin next week, and the indictment will be finalized within a few weeks.
The senior official rejected criticism of the fact that the state had previously argued before the High Court that the case's weak evidence was the grounds for its signing a plea bargain with Katsav, but now plans to indict the former president for rape. The official insisted that the prosecution never said there was no evidence for the case, otherwise a plea bargain would have been out of the question from the start.
However, the senior official accepted that the evidentiary weakness of the case was not concealed, and the plea bargain option was chosen after performing a risk-management assessment.
According to the official, the prosecution's case is in better shape now than on the eve of signing the plea bargain: "Throughout, there was a total denial from Katsav regarding any sexual relationship with any of the complainants. By contrast, he has personally signed a document stating that he admits these crimes.
"Today the public's expectations for the case are more realistic. People know it's going to be a tough case. Nobody likes going to trial when there are excessive and unrealistic expectations, because it creates pressure that boomerangs."
Regarding the conduct of Katsav and his lawyers between signing the plea bargain and cancelling it, the official said: "There are a lot of brilliant maneuvers that turn out to be dirty tricks."
Prosecution officials have started drafting a list of witnesses that can help to establish a pattern in Katsav's conduct. The list includes women on whose complaints the statute of limitations has run out, barring them from being included in the amended indictment.
A. from the President's Residence will not be included as a witness because her testimony is too problematic.
Katsav's lawyers plan to argue that the media's intense coverage of the case, including revelations about complainants' testimony, and the public atmosphere surrounding it, make it impossible for the former president to get a fair trial. If the court accepts this preliminary argument, the indictment will be thrown out.
Prosecution officials deflected that claim, saying that such an argument was anticipated and indeed was made by Katsav's lawyers on various occasions, but under the circumstances it has little chance of succeeding.

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