Last update - 19:13 29/03/2007
Katsav questioned for allegedly raping accuser more than once
By Yuval Yoaz, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service
Police questioned President Moshe Katsav under caution at his official residence in Jerusalem on Thursday, in the wake of a new complaint against the president alleging additional sex crimes.
The complaint was lodged by a former Tourism Ministry employee, who had earlier accused the President of rape. According to the new complaint, Katsav allegedly raped twice, though she did not mention the second allegation in her initial testimony.
During the questioning, Katsav denied the allegation, which allegedly occurred while A. was employeed at the Tourism Ministry during Katsav's tenure as minister. According to the draft indictment, Katsav allegedly raped the woman and forced her into her other sexual activities.
In its official statement, the police wrote only that Katsav has been investigated for alleged sexual crimes.
Earlier Thursday, Zion Amir, one of Katsav's attorneys, said the president's legal team would consider filing a request for the rape and sexual harassment case to be dismissed following the broadcast of an investigative report on allegations against his client.
"I am satisfied because the investigation today proves the President's innocence, and undermines the version of the complainant," Amir said.
The Channel 2 news program "Fact" broadcast new allegations Wednesday from women who had worked with Katsav while he was minister of transportation.
The attorneys said the request would be filed due to Katsav's "premature sentencing by the media."
"Considering what happened yesterday evening, we will take advantage of the holiday recess to consider filing a request to end legal proceedings due to [Katsav's] premature sentencing at the hands of the media," Amir told Israel Radio.
"We will consider how to base this from a legal perspective, at which stage to do it and which steps to take. If he is accused in the media and convicted in the media, there no judge made of flesh and blood who can verify these proceedings without the harmful influence that has seeped under the skin of everyone here," he said.
Amir said it was now impossible to resolve the cast justly, and that the judicial system must be "cleaned out."
A former clerk in the ministry said that once a week she and Katsav went to a Tel Aviv hotel room rented by his associates, with only the two of them present.
It also emerged that Katsav participated in gambling trips abroad organized by associate Reuven Gavrieli, and was present at meetings initiated by another associate, David Havi, which were also attended by convicted drug kingpin Ze'ev Rosenstein.
N., one of the complainants against the president, told the program, "it began as a paternal and attentive relationship. One day he told me, 'I didn't sleep because of you last night.'"
"He said there were intimate moments during which he dreamed about me," she said.
She said that during one of the times they were alone together in his office, he asked her to touch him sexually, but she refused.
Another employee said many of the employees knew about what was occurring, including advisers, drivers, assistants and secretaries.
"Everyone knew that there were hours in which there was 'no entry' to the office. Everyone knew who was the 'favorite on duty,'" she said.
Katsav's attorneys, Amir and Avigdor Feldman, said the statements are incorrect. They said A., Katsav's secretary - who was featured in the program - was described by investigators as a "liar," and that her friend told them she had told her about an affair she was having with Katsav.
Attorneys also said they would file a slander suit against Ilana Dayan, the host of the program, who harmed the president's image on the eve of his hearing with Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.
Katsav questioned on new sexual harassment allegations
Katsav was summoned by police for additional questioning on Thursday, after a new complaint of sexual harassment was recently filed against him.
It appears that one of the women who had complained against the president in the past has recently complained of another harassment incident, which the police did not know of.
Mazuz approved the police request to summon Katsav for further questioning, although the complaint had been filed after a hearing was scheduled for the president on May 2.
Following the hearing, Mazuz will make a final decision on whether or not to indict the president.
The police investigation team notified Amir of the additional interview yesterday and of the nature of the complaint, but did not provide details.
The president refused the police's demand to interview him at the police station or in a "neutral place." Mazuz then permitted the police to interview Katsav at the President's Residence in Jerusalem.
"This is very strange," Amir said yesterday. "The complainant will have to explain why she remembered now, close to the president's hearing, and whether anyone is behind this new complaint of hers."
Last week, Katsav petitioned the High Court of Justice, demanding that the state provide all materials collected in the investigation against him on suspicion of rape and other sexual assault charges.
Katsav's attorneys are questioning the legality of the president's investigation, claiming that all the material against him was illegally obtained.
The president's attorneys, argued in the petition Katsav's hearing before Mazuz is critical to his legal battle.