Middle East

Israel calls off minister sex investigation

Israel's Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem December 23, 2012. REUTERS/Sebastian Scheiner/Pool

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel has called off an inquiry into alleged sex offences by Energy Minister Silvan Shalom, an expected candidate for the presidency, the justice ministry announced Wednesday.

Attorney general Yehuda Weinstein said Shalom was immune from prosecution under Israel's statute of limitations, since an alleged incident dated back more than 10 years, the ministry said.

Police questioned Shalom in late March over what media said were suspicions of sexual assault against a female employee in 1999.

The woman filed a complaint against Shalom, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, prompting more women to come forward with similar accusations, army radio said.

Shalom, 55, is to run in a presidential election this summer to succeed Shimon Peres, and the announcement of his candidature was delayed when the allegations surfaced, according to local media.

Former president Moshe Katsav began a seven-year jail sentence in December 2011 after being convicted on two counts of rape and other sexual offences.





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