Text size

Former president Moshe Katsav was indicted Thursday for rape and indecent assault against a female aide and sexually harassing two other aides.

The indictment, which was announced by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, centers on rape and other sex offenses committed against a female aide who served as the former president's bureau chief during his tenure as tourism minister. It also includes charges of sexual harassment against two female workers at the President's Residence, and of indecent assault against one of them. The former president is also charged of obstruction of justice.

The indictment charges Katsav with two counts of raping an aide who worked at the Tourism Ministry from March 1998 to January 1999, when Katsav was tourism minister. One rape allegedly took place in the minister's office in Tel Aviv, and the other at a Jerusalem hotel. Katsav is also be charged with forcible indecent assault against the aide and abusing his status as her employer.

Katsav is also charged with lesser offenses against two employees of the President's Residence, one of whom he allegedly hugged repeatedly against her will, and another who he allegedly hugged and kissed on the neck against her will. Mazuz has not decided exactly what Katsav will be charged with in these clauses, but a draft indictment dating from May 2007 accused him of indecent assault and sexual harassment against both women.

In one woman's case, Katsav will also be charged with obstruction of justice, because when the investigation began, Katsav asked her for details of her police interrogation and even tried to influence her deposition.

According to the indictment, Katsav abused his status and authority as minister and president, and made sexual advances toward certain staff members whom he found attractive. "The defendant complimented those workers, questioned them intimate questions about their private lives and initiated physical contact with them, even without their consent," the charges say.

In April 1998, according to the charges, Katsav told his aide in the Tourism Ministry that he had forgotten something in his Tel Aviv office and asked her to accompany him. In the bureau he sat next to her and touched her breast. He tried to pull down her pants, but she resisted and pulled them back on. He then knocked her down, pulled her pants off forcibly and raped her.

In June 1998 Katsav asked her to meet him in Jerusalem's Plaza Hotel, where he asked her to come to his room as he "was still getting organized." On entering the room, she sat on the edge of the bed. Katsav, not fully dressed, pushed her back, undressed her and raped her, the indictment says.

Tel Aviv District Court Deputy President Dvora Berliner told Katsav's attorneys to respond to the indictment within seven days.

Katsav's media advisor, Amnon Shomron, said Thursday there was no evidence for the rape and indecent assault charges. "This is an indictment with no evidential basis," said Shomron. "This is a copy of the draft indictment of January 2007, which Mazuz and his officials already told the High Court contained no evidence for a conviction, and this was the reason they sought to reach a plea bargain."