Cleared for publication: Police suspect that associates of former President Moshe Katsav – and possibly Katsav himself – hired the services of private investigators, who allegedly harassed witnesses and one complainant involved in his trial.
The affair had been placed under a gag order.
It is suspected that two private investigators were hired after the former president was convicted and
before his appeal was
filed with the Supreme Court. Katsav, his brothers Lior and Yoram as well as his son Noam were questioned under warning for two hours on Sunday by the National Fraud Investigations Unit for witness harassment, tampering and invasion of privacy. Police are checking to what extent he was involved in the affair.
The two investigators were released from custody Sunday night. They allegedly met with members of the Katsav family. Allegations against them include witness harassment and invasion of privacy.
A senior element in the law enforcement system said, "It appears to be a grave affair. It seems the Katsav story will never end."
Police suspect that the private investigators were trying to obtain new evidence to undermine the complainants' and witnesses' credibility.
They are suspected of harassing one complainant, A. from the Tourism Ministry, her associate, a friend of one witness and a clerk working at the hotel where one of the rapes took place. The suspects were arrested over the weekend.
Police claim the suspects told the complainant's associate they were making a film and tried to befriend the complainant's husband as well as one witness.
One of Katsav's attorneys Mickey Hova said, "The agreement with the private investigators was done according to the law." He added that they were instructed to investigate aspects which the police failed to check, and that harassment was never intended.
An element close to Katsav said in response, "After the verdict was issued the family decided together with the attorneys to hire licensed private investigators. They were instructed to carry out a certain task permitted under the law." The source stressed that the investigators were never asked to harass or tamper with witnesses.
Attorney Ronen Rosenblum, representing one of the suspects, said: "I find it hard to understand why my client is being interrogated. It is clear to me that he carried out the wishes of Moshe Katsav. "
Judge Rafi Arania ruled that the suspects employed others in the purpose of reaching witnesses in former President Katsav's trial and changing their testimonies, while the ex-president's appeal was being discussed by the Supreme Court.
Police decided to release the suspects under restrictions Sunday night.
Attorney Alon Rapaport said: "We are glad that the police realized that my client's actions bear no criminal nature. I am convinced the investigation will not prove fruitful."
Aviad Glickman contributed to this report