Katsav's Associates Trying to Dodge Barbs

Ex-president Moshe Katsav's associates spent the weekend trying to dodge the media's barbs, following his three-hour speech in his hometown of Kiryat Malachi on Thursday.

Journalists who sat through the speech felt they had been cheated. Katsav's advisers hastily quit after the event, so as not to be identified with what had become, despite their efforts, a media farce.

"Katsav wanted very much to answer media questions and I did not agree to it," the former president's defense attorney, Zion Amir, told Haaretz. Amir said he had "violently" intervened.

"Katsav became angry and said, 'I want to answer questions. I'll stand for an hour, two hours, I have nothing to hide.' I told him, 'That will not happen. I do not want you to answer anything. It's a version, it's a trial, it's facts, it's a courtroom,'" Amir said.

"The relevant arguments will not be affected by what happened Thursday. They will be proven in a court of law. That is my arena, and I intend to focus the main fight there," Amir said.

When asked whether he had trouble deciding whether to come to Thursday's press briefing, Amir reiterated that his arena was the courtroom, but that "it is not a great sin to support by being present."

However, Amir left the hall after the first hour, and the absence of another Katsav attorney, Avigdor Feldman, was conspicuous.

Amir said his youngest son was waiting for him at home. As for Feldman, Amir explained that the press conference had originally been scheduled for Wednesday. He and Feldman had planned to stop by for "some of Gila [Katsav]'s tasty dishes," and to prepare Katsav for the briefing.

But the briefing was postponed at the last minute until Thursday, Amir said, and Feldman had already planned a trip to the Hermon with his son that day.

"That's the only reason Avigdor Feldman was not there. He is very committed to the issue and to his client," Amir said.

When Amir was asked whether he had considered resigning, as Prof. David Libai did after Katsav's first press conference, he answered, "Absolutely not."

With regard to the resignation of Katsav's media advisers, Amir said: "I do not get involved in such matters," but added, "I am not sure I would do the same, even if I had criticism."

"It's not a pleasant thing to open the papers and see one's client being taken down the via dolorosa the day after," Amir said, adding: "This is a man with a very, very heavy feeling of humiliation, which he has felt for a long time, too long. It impacts his mood, it depresses and weakens him; he is losing sleep over it."

Attorney Daniel Sror, who represents the case's main complainant, A. from the Tourism Ministry, said, "Mr. Katsav's pathetic speech is not worthy of response."

The lawyer for another complainant, L., Zecharia Schenkolewski said he saw no reason to respond to Katsav's remarks.