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Last Updated: Monday, 16 October 2006, 01:52 GMT 02:52 UK
Police back Katsav rape charges
Israeli President Moshe Katsav
Mr Katsav has said he was the victim of "public lynching"
Israeli police say there is enough evidence to charge President Moshe Katsav with rape and wire-tapping.

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz must now decide whether to press charges.

President Katsav is due to open the winter session of parliament on Monday, but a number of deputies have already threatened to walk out if he attends.

The president denies claims that he forced two female employees to have sex with him, and all other allegations against him.

He has said he is the victim of a "public lynching without trial or investigation".

The police statement said: "There is sufficient evidence indicating that in several cases... the president carried out acts of rape, forced sexual acts, sexual acts without consent and sexual harassment."

"There is sufficient evidence indicating violation of the law banning wire-tapping by the president," it added.

Residence searched

The statement said police also found basis for charges of fraud and malfeasance in office concerning presidential pardons granted by the president - one of the few powers of his office.

Police searched the president's home in August after allegations of sexual harassment emerged, and have questioned him repeatedly and seized documents during the investigation.

Israeli media reports have said the case is based on complaints from up to 10 women.

The 61-year-old father-of-five has rejected calls that he quit the largely ceremonial post that he has held since 2000.

If charged, he would be immune from prosecution.

However, he could be impeached by parliament if it felt he had acted inappropriately.

Israeli dissatisfaction

Mr Katsav will not address the Knesset during the ceremony opening its winter session, the first time in Israeli history that the president has not done so.

Some representatives have threatened to walk out if Mr Katsav is even present.

The BBC's Richard Miron in Jerusalem says Mr Katsav may resign if he is indicted.

The police recommendations come at a time when Israelis of all political hues are dissatisfied with their leadership, our correspondent says.

A number of politicians have faced scandals recently, with charges ranging from sexual misconduct to corruption.

And the handling of the recent war against the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has been widely criticised.

Mr Katsav is a veteran member of the right-wing Likud party, serving as transport minister in the late 1980s and in 1996 as minister of tourism and deputy prime minister.

The post of president, to which he was elected for a seven-year term which ends in 2007, is largely ceremonial.

How the allegations have gripped Israel

Katsav avoids ceremonial duties
13 Sep 06 |  Middle East
Israel president's home searched
22 Aug 06 |  Middle East

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