'Katsav's aides used mafia-like methods'
Full verdict against former president reveals methods of intimidation, humiliation, fabrication of evidence employed by defendant's close associates. Meet Uri Yoeli, Rafi Ben Hur and Zvika Bruckner, who acted on Katsav's behalf. Two of them still receive a salary from state
The full verdict against former President Moshe Katsav, which was cleared for publication Sunday, allows a fascinating glimpse into the "underworld" methods employed by Katsav's associates – intimidation, concealment and fabrication of evidence.
The various testimonies included in the 319-page verdict reveal a series of "mafia-like" methods, which were employed by Katsav's closest associates in an attempt to pester and ward off one of the complainants. On Sunday, Ynet learned that the State Prosecutor's Office is considering launching legal proceedings against the aides and calling them into questioning under warning.
Zvika Bruckner, who still receives a salary from the State as Katsav's chief of staff, and Rafi Ben Hur, the former deputy human resources director and currently a senior official in Katsav's office, both began harassing A. from the Toursim Ministry from the moment she refused to have sex with then Tourism Minister Katsav.
According to the verdict, Katsav would first attempt to get close to his victims in order to collect sexual favors. However, when he was rejected, he would begin a process of distancing and humiliation – all the way to dismissal.
His associates were deeply involved in every one of these stages according to A.'s testimony.
"From that moment on…Katsav decided to make my life miserable…he didn’t do it directly, but through his assistants," she said, adding, "It was with his knowledge and under his directive. There are many letters in which Rafi Ben Hur is badmouthing me to Bruckner or Katsav," she claimed.
Katsav's 'long-reaching arm'. Uri Yoeli (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
During her testimony, A. recounted the dynamics between the three in detail. A. recalled that Bruckner summoned all the secretaries that were subordinate to her and told them not to take any instructions from A.
Hadash Spokesman Dror Nissan, who was friendly with A. said in his testimony that "A. spoke of another person in the office who was abusing her and that it was without doubt under a direct or indirect order of the minister."
Ben Hur, who at the time was a member of the Likud Central Committee, was appointed head of the Transportation Ministry's licensing department at the same time Katsav was appointed transportation minister.
He later moved with Katsav to the Tourism Ministry, where to this day he serves as a senior director.
Although Ben Hur claimed he did not have good relations with Katsav, the judges ruled that he was loyal to the former minister:
"The flood of letters written by Ben Hur…the continuity in which they were written…indicates an intention to constrain A.'s freedom of action and comment on every little thing she does, which drove her insane," they wrote.
'A. was a nagger'A full chapter in the verdict is dedicated to Uri Yoeli, who was Katsav's closest associate, and described by the judges as the defendant's "long-reaching arm."
According to the verdict, Yoeli helped Katsav calm the complainants down and "even initiated and created on his own 'evidence' that would help the defendant on a rainy day."
Yoeli, the judges claimed, had a central role in producing "acquitting' evidence," on which the advocacy hinged its defense.
Yoeli tried to convince A., who was unemployed at the time, that Katsav was trying to help her find a job. He used manipulations, and told her of fabricated job proposals in order to make A. call and then record her.
He later used these tapes to claim that A. was the one who sought Katsav out and wanted to work with him, which he claimed proved that Katsav couldn't have raped her. During one of his testimonies in court, Yoeli said A. was a "nagger" and that he was bored and therefore "played around and recorded her."
Katsav thought these recordings would serve as the secret weapon that would prove his innocence, but the judges determined that "Yoeli's testimony was perjury vis-a-vis the reason A. was recorded."
The judges added that "the recordings were not a genuine piece of evidence, but an artificial one that was obtained through trickery, and does not reflect the true sequence of events."
State Prosecutor Moshe Lador and possibly also Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein will consider whether to launch legal proceedings against Katsav's aides.
Yoeli might be called into questioning under warning and it is possible an an indictment will be filed against him.
The State will also consider taking legal proceedings against Bruckner and Ben Hur, however this might prove to be more difficult as they claim they worked alone and were not acting on Katsav's behalf.
The Justice Ministry said in response: "The verdict findings together with the investigation materials on those elements will be discussed shortly. Our office has received many requests on this matter and they will be reviewed."
Naama Cohen-Friedman and Aviad Glickman contributed to this report
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