President Katzav in Hot Water, on Two Accounts

Police confiscate items from the President's Home and will question him on Wednesday under warning re: sexual harassment charges. Also: Suit filed demanding facts on the pardons he issued.

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 14:55

Officials in President Moshe Katzav's Residence in Jerusalem say they will cooperate fully with the police, and hope that the investigation ends quickly so that his "innocence can be revealed." The police took documents and computers from the President's home.

Katzav has been accused of sexually harassing at least two female employees, and reportedly admitted to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz that one of them had blackmailed him.

It had originally been reported that Katzav would be questioned by police "sometime in the coming two weeks," after the police complete gathering information and evidence. It has now been announced, however, that police investigators will arrive at the President's Residence tomorrow to carry out the interrogation.

It is possible that Mazuz, who is himself conducting the investigation, will require Katzav to suspend himself from office for the duration.

In addition, the Movement for Freedom of Information in Israel (MFII) has filed a suit with the Supreme Court, demanding free access to information on the pardons President Katzav issued.

Haaretz newspaper recently reported that a group of Katzav's close friends had been allowed to view the files of those who had requested pardons. Some of his friends were even involved in making requests for pardons.

The MFII demands that President Katzav, who has been in office for six years, provide a list of the pardon requests, their dates, and the respective Justice Ministry recommendations. "The President has a type of legal authority, and the purity of the manner in which he uses this authority is of utmost importance to the public," the MFII states. "Pardons must be issued without bias or prejudice, and in an equal and fair manner, and the process must therefore be carried out under public scrutiny."

The President's Residence claims it need not provide the requested information, in order not to prejudice the privacy of those who request pardons.