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Police quiz Israeli president over sex allegations

Written by: Staff

JERUSALEM, Aug 23: Israeli police questioned President Moshe Katsav today over allegations he coerced a former female employee into having sex with him, a police spokesman said.

Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the questioning at Katsav's residence in Jerusalem could take several hours.

Katsav has denied any wrongdoing and a spokeswoman said this week the president was cooperating with the investigation. The scandal is unlikely to have significant political repercussions as Katsav's post is largely ceremonial.

If police bring charges, Katsav is immune from standing trial but could be impeached by parliament if it determines he acted inappropriately. He has been president since 2000.

Police seized computers and documents from his residence yesterday.

The scandal involving Katsav and separate allegations against other public figures have darkened the mood in Israel, where the leadership is under fire over the costly month-long war in Lebanon.

Justice Minister Haim Ramon resigned on Sunday after the attorney general said he would indict him over allegedly forcing a kiss on a government employee.

Israel's top government watchdog is examining the terms of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's purchase of a Jerusalem apartment for 1.2 million dollars in 2004.

Military chief Lieutenant-General Dan Halutz has also been criticised for selling his stock portfolio hours after Hizbollah gunmen kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12 that triggered the Lebanon war.


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