Justice Ministry: Criticism of Katsav Indictment Is Groundless

Defense of AG's decision to indict ex-president comes after Katsav's brother called rape charges 'blood libel.'

The Justice Ministry on Monday rejected criticism of Attorney General Menachem Mazuz's decision to indict former president Moshe Katsav for rape as "groundless."

"There is no foundation to the comments and false accusations that external or personal considerations were the basis of the decision to put Katsav on trial," the ministry relayed. "This is nothing but an attempt to divert coverage of the case to irrelevant and inappropriate places."

The statement came after Katsav's brother on Monday attacked the decision to indict him the former president, saying that the charges were tantamount to "blood libel."

The ministry said in response that the decision reached on the Katsav case had not been made by one man, even though Mazuz was the official authorized to do so and he is responsible for it.

On Sunday, Mazuz announced the decision to indict Katsav; he will face charges of rape, sexual harassment and obstruction of justice for incidents that allegedly took place during his tenures as tourism minister and president.

Speaking on Army Radio, Lior Katsav dismissed the allegations against his brother as baseless, claiming that the former president had never had sexual relations with any of his accusers. He said Mazuz had been influenced by external considerations, and had gone against the opinions of many state prosecution lawyers, who believed the case should have been thrown out.

"Mazuz made the easy choice," Katsav said, "the only thing he saw was the decision to sacrifice Katsav or himself. His decision was made in the knowledge that in less than a year he will end his tenure [as attorney general]. By the time that this is cleared up in court, Meni Mazuz will not be here anymore.

"We expected that Mazuz to show professional and personal integrity, and make a decision based on the evidence. We were disappointed that this did not happen."

Katsav's lawyer Avraham Lavi said Monday morning that the defense will request that Mazuz testify in the case. The defense intends to ask him about his meeting with Katsav in which Mazuz was told about a blackmail attempt by 'A' from the President's Residence, who has accused Katsav of rape.