The future indictment will also include counts of forceful indecent act and obstruction of justice, as well as various sexual harassment charges pertaining to a number of female employees who worked alongside Katsav over the years, both in the Tourism Ministry and during his tenure as president.
Katsav was supposed to sign a plea bargain in the case in April, but decided to renege on it in the last minute. The State then pulled the original indictment, criticized by many as being too lenient, and has been working on an emended indictment since.
In an official statement, Mazuz reasoned the lengthy amount of time it took his office to formulate the new indictment by noting that the State Prosecutor's Office had to reassess the case and investigate anew some of the charges brought against the former president.
Many of the offenses took place several years ago, said the statement, and given the time that has passed there is special significance to the careful assessment and reassessment of the validity of the complainants' claims.
Predictable decision? Katsav (Archive photo: Reuters)
Mazuz further said that his office has held numerous discussions on the case over the past few weeks, in order to analyze the evidence and examine the various legal issues pertaining to the highly sensitive case. "The final decision on the indictment was made after the attorney general and the state prosecutor both came to the clear conclusion that there was sufficient evidence to support a criminal indictment and secure a conviction," said the State Prosecutor's Office.
Attorney Zion Amir, for Katsav said that the former president was stunned by the decision. "We were sure the case was about to be closed, just as senior attorneys in the State Prosecutor's Office and in the Attorney General's Office saw fit to do.
"This is a hard decision to accept, especially given the AG's repetitive statements about the problematic nature of the case and the contradictions found in the evidence and statements… The (prosecution's) notion that the case may end up in a resonating acquittal only adds to the questions surrounding this decision."
Ronen Zur, Katsav's communications director, offered the following statement: "The attorney general's decision did not come as a surprise to anyone. Moshe Katsav was well aware of the possible consequences when he decided to renege on his plea bargain and he now welcomes the opportunity to prove his innocence in a court of law.
"This is an unprecedented decision in which the attorney general is pursuing an indictment when he himself is unsure of the person's guilt and when he knows that the evidence does not support such an indictment. The AG has thus evaded making a brave decision, giving in to the public's demands instead."
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The decision on the matter, added Zur, "Was predetermined by media statements which somehow bound the attorney general and the state prosecutor to a certain outcome early on in the case. These statements rendered the opinions of the senior attorneys in the State Prosecutor's Office – who found that there was no merit to the case and in fact recommended it be closed – virtually null.
"In the months which have passed since the last hearing on this case, (the defense team) has gathered substantial evidence which would lead to a colossal acquittal in court," he concluded.
The former president's fickle sexual harassment case has proven to be the proverbial "hot potato" for the State Prosecutor's Office and for Mazuz.
Ironically, it seems Katsav brought the criminal case upon himself: In July of 2006 he filed a seemingly benign complaint with the Attorney General's Office, stating the A., a former employee, was trying to blackmail him and threatening to spread rumors of sexual harassment should he fail to meet her demands.
The subsequent probe, however, soon turned against him, as a slew of investigations regarding his relationship with past and then-present female employees – and with them several grave sexual misconduct charges – began to surface. Katsav has denied all the allegations against him and maintains his innocence.
Faced with growing public and political criticism, Katsav eventually suspended himself from office – although he held his ground and refused to step down for nearly a year. He finally resigned as president in late June of 2007.