Moshe Katsav, the Israeli ex-president mired in a sex scandal, has rejected his plea agreement.
Katsav appeared in Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual offenses. Now Attorney General Menachem Mazuz will have to decide whether to indict Katsav and on what charges. Under the now-void plea bargain Katsav would have been convicted of sexually harassing and molesting female staff but spared graver rape charges.
Katsav’s lawyers said they believe the prosecution’s evidence does not prove that the president is guilty of the charges. The defense won a postponement in proceedings last month so the evidence could be reviewed. Katsav and his attorneys will now go ahead and try to challenge the complainants’ credibility.
Women’s rights groups and anti-corruption lobbies were upset that the former president, who stepped down in disgrace last year, was offered a plea bargain.
Katsav arrived at court with his wife, Gila, a half-hour late, delaying the start of the trial. His car was surrounded by womens’ rights activists and television camera crews.