Israel's top prosecutor on Thursday laid three charges of sexual assault against senior cabinet minister Yitzhak Mordechai, the justice ministry announced.
"Attorney General Eliyakim Rubinstein decided Thursday to start judicial proceedings against Yitzhak Mordechai for three cases of sexual assault," it said in a statement.
It said Rubinstein will seek to remove Mordechai's parliamentary immunity.
The minister is head of the moderate Center Party, one of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's coalition partners.
The Iraqi-born Mordechai temporarily stood down as transport minister after the investigation was launched in early March.
It is the first time in Israel's history a minister has faced sex charges.
Mordechai, 55, who also holds the post of deputy prime minister, has insisted on his innocence but has previously said he would ill resign if prosecutors went ahead with an indictment.
The Center Party, which has four seats in parliament, was formed by Mordechai after he was sacked as defense minister by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January 1998.
Mordechai was initially accused by a 23-year-old employee of locking her in his office, throwing her to the ground and groping her, a complaint that led to similar allegations by two other women -- OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP)
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