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The family of former president Moshe Katsav, including his wife Gila and his children, supported his decision to back out of the plea bargain over sex crime charges, an associate of Katsav's said yesterday.

Katsav harbored thoughts of backing out of the plea bargain for a long time before doing so in court yesterday, the associate said.

"For a long time, he has been going around with a feeling that he is going to admit to things he didn't do," he said. "The prosecution's statement today just strengthened that, and he made a conscientious decision not to do it.

"Gila and the rest of the family were full partners to the decision-making," the associate added.

Katsav entered his Kiryat Malakhi home through the back door after his court appearance yesterday, in an effort to avoid the reporters and photographers waiting for him at his front door. Katsav's children, grandchildren and brother Lior gathered at the house in the evening and refused to be interviewed. A few local children held up signs in front of television cameras reading, "Katsav is innocent."

Friends of the family said the Katsav family felt relieved that the former president had decided to back out of the plea deal and clear his name.

Katsav supporters said his decision was based on new evidence that undermines the credibility of the complainants, adding that the new evidence is as strong as the evidence that led to the cancellation of the indictment against Katsav for allegedly sexually assaulting his former employee A., from the President's Residence.