Court to Hear Main Witness in Katsav Rape Trial

Former president charged with two counts of rape and several counts of forcible indecent acts against the witness.

The main witness in the trial of former president Moshe Katsav is scheduled to testify Tuesday in Tel Aviv District Court. Katsav is charged with two counts of rape and a number of counts of forcible indecent acts against the witness, who has officially been identified only as "A. from the Tourism Ministry."

These are the most serious offenses in the indictment. Katsav is charged with raping A. in his Tel Aviv office in April 1998 and then again in June of the same year at the Plaza Hotel in Jerusalem.

A.'s testimony, like all previous testimony in the trial, will be heard behind closed doors. Publication of any testimony from the trial without the permission of the court is prohibited. The three judges hearing the case - George Karra, Miriam Sokolov and Judith Shevach - Monday rejected a request by daily Yedioth Ahronoth to allow the publication of excerpts from trial transcripts, after the removal of identifying details.

Only the opening statements by both sides in the opening session in early September have been approved for publication.

"Allowing the publication of the complainant's testimony against a public figure, despite the great interest involved in the matters of that public figure, might in the future cause potential complainants, who had sexual crimes committed against them by public figures, to refrain from filing complaints and exposing crimes ... in that event the public's loss will be greater than its gain," the judges wrote in ruling against lifting the prohibition.

In addition, they wrote, "Publishing the transcripts of the complainants' testimony, and those supporting the testimony, while the trial is still underway and before the rest of the complainants have testified, might 'contaminate' the legal process."

The judges wrote that allowing publication of their testimony could keep witnesses who have yet to testify against Katsav from giving full and free testimony and could even keep them from testifying at all. "In both cases the court's work would be harmed: in discovering the truth and in doing justice," said the judges.