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Katsav Affair

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz Photo:Niv Calderon
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz Photo:Niv Calderon
 
President Moshe Katsav Photo: Gil Yohanan
President Moshe Katsav Photo: Gil Yohanan
 
 

Mazuz: Katsav should step down

In his response to High Court petition, attorney general writes: 'When there is a police investigation against the president of the State related to a severe criminal offense, whose character, essence, and circumstances are disgraceful, the president must consider taking a temporary leave of absence'

Aviram Zino
Latest Update: 10.29.06, 11:09 / Israel News

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz believes that President Moshe Katsav must suspend himself from his role following police recommendations to issue an indictment against him.

 

In response to a High Court petition, Mazuz wrote: "When there is a police investigation against the president of the State related to a severe criminal offense, whose character, essence, and circumstances are disgraceful, the president must consider taking a temporary leave of absence by turning to Knesset to establish a temporary incapacity."

 

"At this point in time we are at a stage where the attorney general has already been presented with the findings of the investigation into President Katsav's affair, and the material is currently being examined and evaluated by a team of lawyers," Mazuz added.

 

"The work will continue in the coming weeks. According to previous rulings by the honorable court regarding ministers and deputy ministers, when a severe indictment, whose essence and circumstances are disgraceful, is being served, they cannot continue to serve in their positions."

 

However," Mazuz said, "The court has clarified that in certain circumstances it may be required to end the minister or deputy minister's term in office, even if an indictment has not been served against him."

 

Mazuz explained that the need for a president to suspend himself in light of a criminal investigation is related to the clear risk of undermining the public's trust , and is also aimed at preventing a conflict of interests.

 

The attorney general concluded that the Knesset, as the only entity with the authority to impeach the president, will have to consider the need to exercise its power, depending on the way the president chooses to act.

 

'Professional courage'  

Last week, Attorney Yossi Fox appealed to the High Court requesting that the court instruct Katsav to suspend himself. In an unusual move, the High Court has ordered that the attorney general take part in drafting the reply to the petition, at the lawyer's request.

 

Justice David Heshin granted Mazuz last Sunday a week to explain why the president should not be suspended in light of the suspicions against him, until the attorney general decides whether or not to indict him.

 

Attorney Fox said in response to the court's decision: "I hope that Mazuz will demonstrate professional courage and make his stance public regarding Katsav's insistence to hold on to his post despite the grave allegations against him."

 

Sources involved in the investigation have already said that in light of the details of the case, Katsav should have taken a decision to resign.

 

About a month and-a-half ago the police recommend that the president of the State of Israel be indicted.

The complete investigation file was transferred by the police to the State Prosecutor's Office, including a recommendation to put the president on trial for allegedly committing sex offenses.

 

Katsav is also suspected of harassing a witness and obstruction of justice, but the investigation on the issue has yet to be completed.

 

A statement issued by the police and the Justice Ministry at the time said that "there is alleged evidential basis that in a number of affairs, involving several women – including A. – who worked under Katsav, the president committed sex offenses, including rape, forceful indecent assault, indecent assault without consent and sexual harassment offenses.

 

First Published: 10.29.06, 09:44

 

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