Complainant Against Katsav Seeks to Reenter Rape Charge in New Indictment

Mazuz expresses amazement at ex-president's decision to scrap plea deal, go to trial on sex charges.

The attorney representing A., the first of a string of female employees who filed sexual assault complaints against former president Moshe Katsav, demanded Tuesday that his client's complaint, which was dropped from the original indictment, be reentered into a fresh indictment set to be filed against Katsav.

The lawyer's demand came on the heels of Katsav's announcement that he would forgo a plea deal struck last year, which dropped the rape charges included in the original indictment in favor of lesser charges and no jail time, and will instead stand trial in efforts to clear his name.

The trial will be the first for an Israeli head of state past or present.

The prosecution is now faced with the task of preparing a fresh indictment against the former president, which will include charges of various sex crimes.

Attorney Eldad Yaniv demanded that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz summon A. to discuss the matter. According to Yaniv, A. is not opposed to confronting Katsav face to face.

Yaniv wrote to Mazuz "in light of the former president's announcement he is dropping the plea deal, I ask that my client be summoned for a discussion with the attorney general during which the attorney general will reconsider his stance in regard to the composition of a new indictment and she [A] will be allowed the fundamental right to have her rights protected."

A.'s complaint was excluded from the original indictment after the state prosecution decided that her testimony was not sufficiently reliable due to many contradictions. The prosecution's decision came after the police interviewed A. and decided that her testimony was credible, and recommended that the prosecution indict Katsav for rape based on her testimony.

Earlier, A.'s spokesman Nissim Douek said that "now, that it appears she may have a second chance, she is not changing the path she has chosen ? to bring him [Katsav] to trial ? she may even speed up the process."

He added that A. welcomed Katsav's decision to forgo the plea deal, but "we recently announced that we were planning to launch civil proceedings against Katsav, and as far as we're concerned, he would have stood trial for his actions anyway."

AG hints new Katsav indictment will be harsher than first

Earlier Tuesday, Mazuz hinted that Katsav will face a much harsher indictment than the one that was dropped in favor of a the plea bargain after he resigned last year.

Mazuz expressed surprise at the former president's announcement that he was scrapping the plea deal, saying "on the eve of the plea bargain, there was a clear tendency toward indictment on the most serious crimes with which [Katsav] was charged, despite the difficulty such an indictment posed."

The attorney general was referring to the fact that Katsav was initially charged with rape - a charge supported by police who investigated the case - but as part of the plea bargain this charge was dropped in return for his admission to lesser crimes.

The disgraced former president, flanked by bodyguards and his wife, was in attendance at Jerusalem Magistrate's Court as his attorney, Avigdor Feldman, asked the court to overturn the plea bargain.

"Katsav told me that he couldn't admit to crimes he didn't commit," Feldman said. "The evidence will show that Katsav is innocent."

The accusations against the then-president emerged in the summer of 2006 when he reported to police that A., a former employee, allegedly tried to blackmail him, demanding $200,000 in exchange for her silence on alleged sexual relations between him and her.

Katsav also submitted a tape recording of the suspected extortion attempt. But then "A" filed her own complaint, accusing the president of having coerced her into a sexual relationship through intimidation and while exploiting his superior position as her employer.

Her complaint prompted several other women to come forward and submit similar complaints.

Katsav, a married father of five and grandfather, vehemently denied the charges, and insisted he also engaged in no consensual sexual relationships with any of the women.

He resigned in June last year, weeks before his term was due to expire, under the terms of the plea bargain. Katsav was succeeded by President Shimon Peres, whom he defeated in the 2000 election for the presidency.

As part of the plea deal, he also confessed to sexual harassment, forcible indecent assault and harassing a witness. In return he was to receive a suspended sentence, and rape charges were struck from the indictment.

The Supreme Court, deliberating a petition by women's rights groups to throw out the deal, upheld the plea bargain in February, saying it saw no reason to intervene in a decision by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to approve the arrangement.

Prosecutors said Tuesday that they will prepare a fresh indictment against Katsav in the coming days.

"There are many factors that brought him to this decision," said another of Katsav's attorney, Zion Amir, after the decision was announced.

Outside the court, about 80 protesters from anti-rape and women's groups gathered Tuesday, waving placards decrying sexual violence. "We are all 'A'," read one sign.

The protestors responded with elation to the news, saying that they would finally have their day in court. Amir told them: "You wanted to cancel the plea bargain, you got it."

Katsav, a former Likud legislator, has accused the Israeli media of mounting a politically motivated witch-hunt against him.

"Check newspaper archives and television footage over the past two years and see what you did to this man," Amir told reporters.

"Protesters were chanting outside, 'We want a trial, We want a trial' - so there will be a trial," said Feldman.