Jurists Urge Attorney General to Investigate Associates of Ex-president Katsav

Letter from jurists refers to Katsav's guilty verdict in which judges accuse the former president's confidantes of helping him try to discredit his rape, sexual harassment victims; Details of Katsav tape at center of case revealed.

A forum of jurists has turned to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, urging him to open criminal investigations against close associates of Moshe Katsav who collaborated with the former president in an attempt to smear his accusers.

The jurists based their demand on the verdict in the Katsav case that was handed down on Thursday, in which the judges pointed out that Katsav's associates actively helped him gather materials which they hoped would discredit the women who accused him of sex crimes, including rape, of which he was ultimately convicted.

katsav - Tal Cohen - December 30 2010
Tal Cohen

Katsav was found guilty of rape and sexual assault at Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday, as the judges ruled that his version of events was "riddled with lies." The unanimous verdict was handed down more than four years after complaints surfaced of grave sexual offenses against various subordinates, during his terms as tourism minister and as president.

The jurists' letter, which was publicized on Sunday night on Army Radio, stated, "We are talking about legal proceedings of great importance to the general public. It is important that the law be applied to every person that actively aided [former president Moshe Katsav]."

"Throughout [former] President Katsav's [guilty] verdict, the judges' state their firm opinion about the behavior of some of Katsav's associates, who they describe as 'his loyal emissaries,'" the letter said.

The letter continued, "The court found that the 'loyal emissaries' of the [ex-] president performed a number of actions that allowed [Katsav] to carry out his plan. These included harassing the complainants, recording the complainants and 'cooking the evidence' and editing the recording, and inventing testimonies that could be used 'on a rainy day.'"

Ever since the guilty verdict was handed down on Thursday, former President Katsav has confined himself to his home in Kiryat Malachi, except for a few short trips to the local synagogue, when he surrounded himself with family members and close friends.

Over the weekend, many journalists swarmed around his home, but Katsav refused to speak to any of them. Some friends and family members visited his home to try and cheer him up. On Saturday afternoon, a number of people from the local synagogue came to his house to pray with him there.

Confidantes of Katsav that visited him at his home over the weekend said that he was very depressed, despite their efforts to raise his spirits. They said that Katsav still believes that he is innocent of the charges, and all of his friends and family believe in his innocence, as well.

The audio tape that led to the story being made public was played on Channel Two Television on Sunday night. On the tape, an associate of Katsav and a woman known as A., a former employee at the President's Residence, are heard speaking.  A. accused Katsav of rape but was not included in the indictment, while Katsav was convicted of raping and sexually assaulting a different woman, also known as A., a former employee at the Tourism Ministry.

Katsav originally brought the tape to then-Attorney General Manny Mazuz, complaining that he was being extorted for money. On the tape, A. is in fact heard asking for Katsav for money, but at the same time, it is quite obvious to the listener that the relationship between Katsav and A. is more complicated than that.

In one of the tapes, Katsav is heard saying, "You let me go, you let it all go because of some sh… okay, let's not go there." In response, A. is heard to say, "You are lying, we both know the truth, we are both actors in this story. You are the lead actor, for what you did." Katsav responds, "I swear to you, I am no actor, you are the actress."

On the tape in which A's demands for money from the former president are discussed, Katsav asks, "What kind of sums [of money] are we talking about?" "$200,000, I think. And I'm not joking one bit," A. responds.

A. then adds, "Moshe, you should sit down and think about this on your own, I'm sorry to say. My life is over. My life is completely destroyed. You, not me. Should I not have a life? There's no reason in the world for that."

The conversation ends abruptly when A. tells Katsav, "I can't stand this room."