Katsav plea bargain outrageous, complainant says
Woman who worked with suspended president during his tenure as tourism minister and accused him of rape says in statement, 'I am frustrated and would like to appear before the court.' Attorney general expected to deliver statement on deal's details; complainant from President's Residence petitions High Court against Mazuz
"I object to this deal. This decision is surprising and outrageous, particularly in light of the fact that the case is solid and the evidence is good. I am frustrated by the decision and ask to appear before the court," A said in a statement issued by her lawyer, Attorney Moshe Meroz.
The second complainant A who worked at the President's Residence, also slammed the changes in the indictment and petitioned the High Court in a bid to prevent Attorney General Menachem Mazuz from announcing the details of the plea bargain before she expresses her stance, as required by the law.
The petition also included a request to issue an injunction against the press conference Mazuz planned to hold Thursday morning.
Mazuz is also expected to inform the multiple complainants regarding the revised indictment.
A's lawyer, Attorney Kineret Barashi, said Wednesday evening, "This is a day of sorrow. Even though Katsav is admitting that he lied the whole time, the attorney general – who was meant to defend the victim A – has surrendered to pressures exerted by Katsav's top lawyers, who terrorized him without presenting one new fact.
"I regret the fact that the State Prosecutor's Office gave up on doing justice, but this is A's truth and this is her life. We have no plans to give up until justice is revealed," the lawyer said.
According to the plea bargain, which was published by Channel 10 Wednesday evening, rape charges against Katsav will be dropped in exchange for a guilty plea on lesser charges.
Sources close to the Katsav said he had been persecuted for the past year and would "most likely agree to a plea bargain, simply because of the suffering his family has had to endure from this."
Nearly a month ago, Ynet reported that the State Prosecutor's Office and Katsav's lawyers were in negotiations over a plea bargain, following the estimates of many in the State Prosecutor's Office that there was not enough evidence to convict Katsav.
The criminal investigation against Katsav was launched last July, and on January 2007 Mazuz decided to indict him for a series of sexual offenses, including rape.
About a month ago, Katsav's lawyers presented Mazuz with a document containing new evidence against the complainants. The 120-page long document presented the women in a way that contradicted their credibility, and some officials said it could refute the charges against Katsav.
'Mazuz manifested moral cowardice'Meretz leader Yossi Beilin urged the prosecution on Thursday to explain its decision to drop rape charges against Katsav if he pleads guilty to lesser charges.
"The decision for a plea bargain in the scandal involving the president is shocking. The system that leveled severe accusations against the number one citizen has to explain to the public how the indictment was changed in such a surprising manner," Beilin said.
"The attorney general has manifested moral cowardice and has given in to pressures exerted by those in authority," Knesset Member Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) said in response to the report on a plea bargain reached between Katsav and the State Prosecutor's Office.
"The price of his surrender and cowardice is being paid by the sex victims who were slandered and have no defense, and this will prevent other women from filing complaints," Gal-On said.
She added that "as Mazuz himself said that this was not libel, his legal and moral duty is to allow the complainants to voice their version in front of the court and the public. I plan to amend the law in order to allow victims of sex offenses to veto plea bargains.
"Only a few days ago Mazuz spoke about the social depression, and it appears that he himself is responsible for this depression. Instead of enforcing the law as he whould, he is running a weak law enforcement system, so we shouldn’t be surprised that the nation is depressed.
MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) also slammed the decision, saying that "if a plea bargain is accepted, this would badly harm the trust of women who were sexually attacked and of the public in general in the ability of a plain citizen to reveal justice opposite a powerful and connected person."
According to Yacimovich, "The police, the State Prosecutor's Office and the attorney general all believe the complainants. The court must also be allowed to listen to their testimonies and show justice at work."
Amnon Meranda contributed to the report