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 Monday, October 16, 2006

Israeli President Accused of Rape by Police


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Moshe Katsav, President of Israel

Read here full article by Allyn Fisher-Ilan

Israeli police force had acquired evidence suggesting Israeli President Moshe Katsav had raped and molested women who worked for him.

In a joint statement capping weeks of investigations, Israel's Justice Ministry and national police said:

"There is prima facie evidence of a number of incidents in which several women who worked under his authority were involved, that the president carried out sex crimes of rape, sexual molestation by force and without consent."

Katsav was also suspected of "a violation of a law against eavesdropping" and involvement in fraud, it said, summing up findings presented by a team of police investigators.

A police source said Katsav was suspected of installing bugging devices to hear employees' phone conversations.

Israel's Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz will decide whether to bring charges against Katsav after prosecutors review the evidence, the statement added. Mazuz will likely make a decision in about two weeks, the police source said.

Katsav, 60, born in Iran, is married with five children and six grandchildren and has been president since 2000.

He is immune from prosecution unless he is impeached by parliament.

An indictment would be unlikely to have any significant political repercussions.

But the scandal adds to a list of events that have darkened the mood in Israel, where a cabinet minister has been indicted for a forced kiss and the government is under fire for its handling of a war against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

"The president must resign," Education Minister Yuli Tamir said on Israeli television. "If he doesn't do so, I believe a process will be launched to force him to resign."

Several women parliament members threatened a walkout if Katsav goes ahead with plans to attend the opening of the winter session of the legislature tomorrow.

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