Ex-president of Israel blasts legal ‘lynching’ after rape indictment

Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav on Thursday accused the country’s authorities of "lynching" him, four days after the attorney general said Katsav would be indicted for rape and sexual assault.

“History will find in my favor,” he said in a news conference. “The legal onslaught on me was a hysterical eruption of hatred and malice and it included witness tampering, coaching and coercing, all to frame the president of Israel.” Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said Sunday he would indict Katsav on charges of rape and sexual assault of a number of his employees, plus obstruction of justice. Katsav said he would “fight to see the truth come out.” “I have kept quiet for two years so as not to be blamed for the obstruction of justice and because I had hoped the authorities would come to their senses. But they were and are relentless,” he said. “The attorney general, the state prosecutor’s office, the police, politicians and journalists have shed my blood daily. For 32 months my rights and my honor have been trampled on and the lynching will not stop.” Katsav had agreed in 2007 to plead guilty to lesser charges and pay a fine to avoid jail time, but pulled out of the deal when it came time to enter his plea.

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The plea bargain caused a public storm in Israel, mainly because it did not include charges of rape, contrary to what had been suggested by Mazuz in a draft indictment. Katsav, of the center-right Likud Party, was president of Israel from 2000 to 2007. He was minister of tourism before that. The charges stem from allegations made against him in both jobs. He resigned the presidency in June 2007 because of the sexual assault allegations.