Israeli president to be charged with rape

Prosecutors intend to charge Israeli President Moshe Katsav with rape and other crimes against female employees, the Justice Ministry said on Tuesday, in what would be an unprecedented indictment against an Israeli head of state.

Katsav’s post is largely ceremonial and the scandal is unlikely to have a direct impact on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has been stung politically by a string of investigations into suspected corruption, which he has denied.

But the case against Katsav, months in the making, appears certain to strengthen the feeling among many Israelis that misconduct is rampant at the top.

”The attorney general, with the agreement of the state attorney, reached the conclusion that there is sufficient prima facie evidence to indict the president,” the Justice Ministry said in a statement.

Katsav has denied wrongdoing in a scandal that erupted last year when several former staffers filed complaints with police, accusing him of sex crimes.

The ministry said an indictment will include the charge of raping one of the four women who accused Katsav of sexual assault.

While serving as president, Katsav can be put on trial only if he is impeached by Parliament. He has said he will suspend himself from office if indicted.

Katsav has been president since 2000, a tenure due to end in July. — Reuters

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