Main Prosecution Witness A. Takes Stand at Katsav Rape Trial

The main prosecution witness in the trial of former president Moshe Katsav, known in the press as A. from the Tourism Ministry, took the stand yesterday at the Tel Aviv District Court.

According to the indictment, Katsav raped her twice and also sexually harassed her.

A. testified for more than three hours, during which she was questioned by prosecutors Ronit Amiel and Nissim Marom. She will be cross-examined by Katsav's defense attorneys, Avigdor Feldman, Zion Amir and Avraham Lavie.

A. was brought into the courtroom through the prisoners' entrance to avoid the press outside. Several women wearing T-shirts stating "We are all A." were removed by court security.

A. testified in a closed-door session whose contents are under gag order. However, the indictment served against Katsav in March gives some idea as to what A. said.

According to the indictment, in April 1998 Katsav, then tourism minister, told A., his employee, that he forgot something in his Tel Aviv office and asked her to join him. In the office, Katsav sat next to her and pulled down her pants. She resisted and pulled them back up, so he allegedly pushed her to the floor, removed her pants by force and raped her.

Two months later, in June 1998, Katsav arranged to meet A. at the Plaza Hotel in Jerusalem. He asked her to come up to his room, saying he was not ready yet. When she saw he was not yet dressed, she sat down on the corner of the bed. Katsav pushed her onto the bed, undressed her and raped her.

Katsav also used to call A. in the evenings, to ask her what she was doing, and what she was wearing, and tell her to undress. At a later stage Katsav allegedly asked A. to agree to have sex with him.

In the cross examination, Katsav's defense team will try to confront the witness with alleged contradictions in her testimony, in order to damage her credibility. They are expected to ask her why she wrote letters to Katsav after the alleged rapes, and why she agreed to come to his hotel room after he allegedly already raped her once. A.'s responses will also be covered by the gag order.