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Former Israeli president facing rape charges jailed for seven years

Tuesday March 22, 2011 03:27:17 PM, DPA

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Former Israeli president awaits rape case sentence

Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav will learn Tuesday whether he will go to jail on a rape conviction in a case that has already made history in Israel. The former head of state is the highest-ranking Israeli official ever to   »

Tel Aviv: Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav was Tuesday sentenced to seven years in jail with an additional two years suspended for rape and sexual harassment by a court in Tel Aviv.

Katsav was convicted three months ago on two counts of rape involving one former employee and indecent assault involving other female subordinates while serving as a cabinet minister and later as president.

The charges brought against him included two counts of rape, sexual harassment, indecent assault, witness harassment and obstruction of justice.

He was also ordered Tuesday to pay 100,000 shekels ($28,000) in compensation to one of his victims.

"The accused is a symbol. The fact that he performed these acts while holding a high rank only makes his acts more severe," court president George Kara said.

"The defendant committed the crime and like every other person, he must bear the consequences. No man is above the law," Kara said.

The court's decision was not unanimous, with one of the three judges pressing for a a lesser jail term.

Katsav, who is expected to start serving his sentence in early May, burst into tears when the sentencing was handing down and cried out that the entire verdict was "a mistake".

"You have caused me grief. You have allowed the lies to triumph," he said. "The girls know that they lied."

The allegations against Katsav surfaced in July 2006 when a journalist reported that the former president had complained to the attorney general that he was being blackmailed by a former employee who claimed he had sexually abused her.

The affair snowballed into one of complaints against Katsav himself, stemming from his time as a government minister and as president. Charges were brought four years later, after accusations against him from 10 women.

Katsav insisted he was innocent and rejected a plea bargain which would have seen him convicted on lessor charges, and at worst led to a suspended sentence.

Katsav, at the time a front-bench legislator from the Likud Party, was the unexpected victor when parliament chose Israel's eighth president in July 2000, defeating elder-statesman Shimon Peres.

It was hoped at the time that he would restore to the presidency much of the dignity it appeared to have lost under his predecessor, the flamboyant, maverick and outspokenly undiplomatic Ezer Weizman, who had been forced to curtail his term because of a financial scandal.

Peres became president after Katsav resigned in 2007.






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Picture of the Day

President of India Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil addressing at the inauguration of the National Festival of Tribal Dances, ‘PRAKRITI’, in New Delhi on March 16, 2011. Union Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Culture, Kum. Selja, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Kantilal Bhuria and Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Mahadev S. Khandela are also seen.

(Photo: Mukesh Kumar)



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