Katsav: 'My noose is Mazuz's lifeline'
Facing rape charges, ex-president slams attorney general, police, women who filed complaints against him.
Moshe Katsav lashed out at the law enforcement agencies Thursday, in his first response to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz's announcement on Sunday that he plans to charge the former president with serious sexual offenses, including rape.
The speech covered numerous targets: the attorney general, the State Prosecutor's Office, the police, the women who filed the complaints against him, and the media. In particular, however, he assailed Mazuz's integrity and presented himself as a victim of the law enforcement agencies.
"I and my family are bleeding and crushed from those same intrigues that brought about my conviction in the eyes of public," he said. "I haven't committed suicide and I haven't broken, but my noose is Mazuz's lifeline."
Katsav spoke for more than two and a half hours to an almost empty hall in his hometown of Kiryat Malakhi, then infuriated the exhausted journalists by refusing to take questions. He said his legal advisors had forbidden him to do so, "so as not to become embroiled in the offense of obstructing justice." Under cover of the ensuing uproar, he and his wife, Gila, then slipped out of the hall.
The Katsav family was there in full force, occupying the front row of seats. But even they seemed to be tuning out as the speech went on and on.
"I'm proud but humiliated, worn out and hurting but determined not to give in," Katsav said. "I will not give up. I was a good president and won praise from all sides; I believe history will judge me kindly."
"For three years they've conducted a witch hunt against me," he continued. "The police, the attorney general, the prosecution and the media have trampled my honor as a man and trampled my family. I have become fair game ... but the day will come when my innocence will cry out. They've lynched me, they've almost broken me. It is impossible to stand up against a system that is so destructive and lacking all restraint. I've kept silent for two years, but no more."
Katsav accused the prosecution of systematically leaking evidence collected in his case to the media, and even showed the assembled journalists a disk that, he claimed, contained 1,500 documents related to his case and had been leaked to the media by the prosecution.
"These are documents that I asked the court to give us as part of my defense, but they were not handed over," he said. "However, they did go to the media."
Throughout his 40 years of public service, he continued, he was always careful not to "rub elbows with" what he termed "the elites and the media clique." And that, he charged, is why he is being victimized today.
Katsav also accused the prosecution of concealing material from the public that, he claimed, proves his innocence. "But the valorous press, which runs to court to get gag orders overturned over every bit of nonsense and every hiccup, was silent," he charged. "The media feared that the wild incitement and persecution against me would be proven baseless."
He lambasted numerous specific newspaper articles, quoting their contents and headlines, and also certain specific journalists. One, Shalom Yerushalmi of Maariv, stormed out of the hall after Katsav accused him of hostile reporting from the podium.
Moving on to the police, Katsav charged: "The police investigation against me was superficial, not thorough and tendentious. Twice I went over the evidence with my lawyers and I didn't find so much as a piece of evidence that could be used against me. Mazuz and [former] state prosecutor Eran Shendar evidently never bothered to read this material."
Finally, he lashed out at A., the woman he will be charged with raping, who worked under him when he was tourism minister. Katsav said he fired A. because she was untrustworthy and behaved improperly. He also said there are witnesses who reported that immediately after she received the dismissal notice, "she said, 'I'll say he sexually harassed me.' And I have dozens of other examples of how Meni Mazuz has spilled my blood in the media, with the media's assistance."
In another attempt to smear A., Katsav claimed that on the night she moved out of a rented apartment on a moshav due to a dispute with the owner, the apartment was torched. "Why don't the police investigate that?" he demanded.
"This entire affair is causing huge damage to the battle against sexual harassment," he added. "After I am acquitted - and I will be acquitted - what will people think about those who really were sexually harassed?"