Former Israeli president charged with multiple counts of rape

March 19, 2009

Israel’s former president Moshe Katsav has been charged with multiple counts of rape and sexual harassment. He has been accused of carrying out a string of attacks on an employee in his office while he was tourism minister in the 1990s.

Mr Katsav is also accused of sexually harassing at least one female employee while he was president.

The 63-year-old Iranian-born father-of-five was forced to step down from office over the charges two years ago.

Katsav, who was elected president in 2000, vigorously denies all the charges against him.

“I am the victim of a lynching organized by the judicial counselor of the government (Menahem) Mazuz, the police, politicians and the media,” he said.

“My honor and that of my family has been attacked for the past three years. I have been humiliated, crushed, knocked down, and I suffer. But I am determined to fight to ensure that the truth emerges, all the truth, because I am innocent,” he said.

The indictment marked the latest chapter in an affair that began in July 2006, when then-president Katsav filed a complaint with Attorney General Menahem Mazuz alleging a former employee was trying to blackmail him.

An investigation by Mazuz however resulted in the woman, referred to by Israeli media as Plaintiff A, accusing the president of raping her while she was his secretary in the late 1990s.

The accusations and the months of investigations that followed saw Katsav embroiled in the worst scandal ever to befall an Israeli leader as other women followed suit.

Amid the uproar, Katsav removed himself from his duties in January 2007, following a very public row with the state prosecution.

If convicted of rape, Katsav could face a jail term of up to 16 years in jail.

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