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Archive for Friday, June 29, 2007

President agrees to resign, gets no jail time

June 29, 2007

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— Israeli President Moshe Katsav agreed to resign Thursday in a plea bargain that drops rape allegations and the threat of jail time in return for pleading guilty to lesser charges.

The deal was a dramatic reversal by Attorney General Meni Mazuz, who had announced in January that he planned to take Katsav to trial on charges of rape and other sex crimes - counts that could have landed him in prison for 20 years.

Katsav's accusers, all former female employees, condemned the deal, which will impose no jail time for his guilty pleas to sexual harassment and obstruction of justice. He also has to pay damages to the accusers.

Claims that Katsav used his position as Israel's ceremonial head of state to force himself on women were the most serious allegations ever brought against an Israeli leader and intensified growing worries about misconduct by a swelling list of officials.

Katsav stepped aside from his duties in January to fight the rape allegations but didn't resign. His seven-year term expires next month but he will resign as part of the deal, said his spokesman.

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