The High Court of Justice on Tuesday examined the issue of the plea bargain obtained with former President Moshe Katsav on Tuesday. A special panel of judges grilled the Deputy State Prosecutor, Shai Nitzan, who defended the State's decision to give up on the original charges against the former president.
Judge Ayala Procaccia asked Nitzan: "Is the prosecutor's stance in this case, and standard of evidence, different to that of a regular defendant? Maybe there is a different quantity of evidence which is used regarding a regular defendant, to that of which the of the holder of the highest office of the State, when deciding the standard of 'reasonable chance of conviction, and that's why there is a special hesitation to go to trial?"
Nitzan responded by saying that "the same parameters are used for both the beggar and the president."
Procaccia asked, "Perhaps there is an unknown process? I am asking, could it be that here weight has been given to the fact that this is an unusual case and an unusual person, and this has entered the risk estimation for conviction."
Nitzan replied, "I am not responsible for the limitations on human nature, but as long as we are taking about considered decisions, public officials face harsher standards."
The deputy prosecutor compared the path to an indictment to obstacle course, and stressed that after the first hurdle is passed – a standard of evidence – in the case of public officials, indictment is the next step.
At this stage, a clash between Nitzan and Beinish ensued. Beinish asked, if the Attorney General already decided to submit a draft of charges which is so severe – from here it seems that the prosecutors had the required evidence. "How did you not get past the first hurdle?" she asked.
The deputy prosecutor answered by saying that the evidence was insufficient, and that only then was the charge sheet considered. "That answer is just semantics," Beinish remarked.
Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan has uncovered significant details from a reply by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to a petition against a plea bargain with former President Moshe Katsav. The revelations were made in a High Court session on Tuesday morning.
Nitzan said during the session that the case on apparent transgressions carried out by Katsav against complainant A., who worked at the President's Residence, has been closed due to a lack of evidence. He added that the case major contradictions came up in the testimonies of the complainant as opposed to the testimonies of her friends.
In addition, contradictions emerged between the A.'s testimony and objective solid testimony, including a recording and a letter. Nitzan added that a number of contradictions emerged between various testimonies A. submitted.
"If she would give the testimony given by her friends, maybe things would look differently. There is a serious problem with her credibility. What was the actual nature of their relations? A romance or rape?" asked Nitzan.
The session is taking place before a wide panel of judges headed by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish. The judges are also discussing a press blackout decree around replies given by the attorney general to the government and petitioners.
During the session, Nitzan addressed a press conference held by a few months ago, in which she detailed her version of events at the president's residence. "This is a very serious problem. Those descriptions didn't appear at any point in her (official testimonies) version," Nitzan said.
The former president's attorney, Zion Amir, said that the press ban should be lifted adding that "reality can't be ignored. What has to face the court are those massive reports against the president."
In response, Judge Beinish said, "we are not the press."