Monday, October 30, 2006

Israel President Facing Rape Allegations

Israel's attorney-general Menachem Mazuz is expected to recommend President Moshe Katsav suspend himself from duties after police said they had evidence he committed rape, Israeli media reported.

The reports said Mazuz would issue the recommendation in response to a high court petition against 60-year-old Katsav, who has denied any wrongdoing.

The Justice Ministry and police said in a statement on October 15 they had gathered evidence Katsav "carried out sex crimes of rape, sexual molestation by force and without consent" against women employees.

It is up to Mazuz to decide whether to indict Katsav.

An Israeli lawyer has petitioned the high court to order the president suspend himself from duties.

The reports said Mazuz would tell the court Katsav should at least temporarily refrain from carrying out his duties so as to avoid obstructing the prosecution, as employees had hesitated to testify against him.

The case is unlikely to have any direct effect on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government because the presidency is a ceremonial post in Israel.

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