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Indictment of former Israeli President for Rape Gives Accusers Day in Court

Women's empowerment groups in the NIF family have voiced their support for Israel Attorney General Meni Mazuz's decision to indict former President Moshe Katsav for rape and indecent assault.

Michal Rozin, Executive Director of Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel (ARCCI) said that the Katsav saga had had the effect of deterring women from complaining to the police about rape and sexual harassment. She is encouraged that the infamous case will finally go to court. "Only 20 percent of the thousands of women who turn to us each year are prepared to complain to the police,” Rozin noted. “The negative experience of Katsav's plea bargain and the humiliation of the women was not an incentive to other women to take action."

 

Thousands demonstrate against President Katsav's plea bargain agreement in 2007 in a protest organized by NIF grantees.

"But now the women in the Katsav case will have an opportunity to give testimony and prove their allegations. A successful outcome to the trial for these women will influence others to go to the courts."

Police began investigating then-President Katsav in 2006 after a number of women lodged complaints of rape and sexual assault. In June 2007, several weeks before President Katsav's resignation, the Attorney General reached a plea bargain agreement with President Katsav whereby he would only be indicted with the minor charges of indecent assault and sexual harassment. The NIF family led the storms of public protest with grantees ARCCI and Kolech – Religious Women’s Forum among the organizations who appealed to the Supreme Court to cancel the plea bargain.

The Supreme Court narrowly upheld the plea bargain in February 2008, but in a surprise move President Katsav himself decided to cancel the deal on advice from his lawyers that the police did not have enough evidence to make the rape charge stick. 

Rina Bar-Tal, Chair of former NIF grantee Israel Women's Network, said, "Now the court can bring justice to light and decide without having to take into account dubious plea bargains. The wheels of justice are turning."

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$250 million to Israeli social change groups since 1979.