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Israeli President Charged with Rape, Sexual Assault

Israeli President Moshe Katsav might become the first Israeli president ever to be indicted with rape and sexual assault charges, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz announced on Tuesday.

Katsav, 61, is accused of raping and sexually harassing female subordinates while serving as a tourism minister and in his current role as president.

He has repeatedly denied the charges and claims that they are part of a slander campaign. Katsav's lawyers are ready to defend him, including David Libai who announced at a news conference in Tel Aviv: “The president is convinced that he is a victim of false allegations and attempts to remove him from his office, and he will fight to prove his innocence.?

Many are insisting that the president step down, including Zahava Gal-On, a member of Parliament who told Israel Radio that he thinks the president should announce his resignation at once.

According to the New York Times, Israeli law prohibits a current president from going on trial. However, a trial is allowed if the president resigns, is impeached by Parliament, or after his term is up. Katsav's term will end this summer.

Sources say that the decision of the indictment rests upon the outcome a hearing that has yet to be scheduled.

I thought it was interesting how both the New York Times and the Star Tribune began their leads with the Attorney General (who made the announcement about the indictment) instead of the more prominent person, President Katsav.