(dpa) - Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav reneged Tuesday on a controversial plea bargain, as he was about to face charges in a Jerusalem court of sexually harassing former employees
Katsav, flanked by his wife Gila and bodyguards, was present in the courtroom as his attorney asked the judges to dismiss the plea bargain.
The move by Katsav means Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz will now have to decide whether to indict Katasv, and on what charges.
Under the terms of the plea-bargain, Katsav, 62, resigned the presidency and confessed to committing sexual harassment, forcible indecent assault and harassing a witness.
In return he was to receive a suspended sentence, and rape charges were struck from the indictment.
The deal elicited a wave of protests, but in February Israel's High Court of Justice upheld it and rejected a petition submitted by women's advocacy groups and several of a series of former employees who filed serious the sexual harassment complaints against the 62- year-old former president.
The women alleged Katsav sexually harassed them while they worked under him when he served as president, and before that as tourism minister, during the past decade.
The complaints included one count of rape, punishable by up to 16 years in prison under Israeli criminal law, and several other serious offences.
The accusations against Katsav emerged in the summer of 2006 when the then-president reported to the police that a former employee identified only as "A" allegedly tried to blackmail him, demanding 200,000 dollars in exchange for her silence on alleged sexual relations between him and her.
He had submitted a tape recording of the suspected extortion attempt.
But complainant A subsequently filed her own complaint, accusing Katsav of having coerced her into a sexual relationship through intimidation and while exploiting his superior position as her employer.
Her complaint prompted as many as nine other women to come forward and submit similar complaints.
Katsav, a married father of five and grandfather, vehemently denied the charges, and insisted he also engaged in no consensual sexual relationships with any of the women.
Katsav resigned in June last year, shortly after Israel's attorney- general announced the plea bargain, as his seven-year term as president was about to expire. He was replaced one month later by veteran Israeli statesman Shimon Peres.