Moshe Katsav Indicted on Rape Charges

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TEL AVIV - Israel's State Prosecutor has officially indicted Moshe Katsav, Israel's former president, on a number of charges including two counts of rape, forcibly performing indecent acts and sexual harassment.

The charges were initially filed after accusations of improper conduct by a woman in the Tourism Ministry and two women in the Office of the President.

The indictment, filed in the Tel Aviv District Court, states that Katsav abused the power of his office to coerce improper sexual relations with the women.

The court has issued a gag order on the list of 56 witnesses scheduled to testify, reportedly because one of the witnesses has been assaulted.

Last week, during a defiant news conference in his home town of Kiryat Malachi, Katsav said he will vigorously defend himself in court, and he lashed out at his perceived adversaries.

"My blood has been shed daily by the attorney general, the state prosecutor's office, the police, politicians and journalists," he said. "For 32 months my rights and honor have been trampled, and the lynching will not stop."

Katsav was forced to resign under the terms of a plea bargain in 2007, just two weeks before his seven-year term as president was to expire.

The plea bargain would have allowed him to admit to lesser charges, but shortly after he resigned, he dropped the plea bargain, deciding instead to stand trial.

Sources: Ynet News, Irish Times

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