December 30, 2010 by staff
Moshe Katsav, (AFP) – Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav has been convicted of two counts of rape on Thursday, capping a four-year scandal that has shocked the Jewish state and the leaves in front of him at least eight years prison.
Like a Tel Aviv court issued the verdict, which also condemned Katsav on charges of sexual harassment, indecent acts and obstruction of justice, visibly distraught 65-year-old whispered: “No, no.”
The decision came after a trial that lasted a year and a half, and charges atrocious, with performances by Katsav as a sexual predator who repeatedly harassed his female employees.
The former head of State was accused of raping the victim twice identified as “Aleph” during his tenure as Minister of Tourism, and sexually assaulting and harassing two other women while he was president.
Katsav has proclaimed his innocence throughout the investigation on charges of rape and harassment.
He first accepted a plea agreement that saw the least admit the charges and pay a fine in exchange for prosecutors dropping charges of rape, but later changed his mind; cancel the transaction and saying he wanted to clear his name in court.
He was forced to resign as chairman, handed to the office of former rival Shimon Peres. Katsav accused his victim of trying to blackmail him and accused of being the victim of a “lynching” by prosecutors and the media.
“I was humiliated, crushed, shot, and I suffer,” he said in March 2009.
Thursday, chaired by Judge George Kara, reading the verdict to a packed house, Katsav said “engaged in a smear campaign against the plaintiffs.”
And he said the former president’s decision to cancel the plea agreement “was a serious mistake.”
“We believe that the plaintiff (Aleph), because his testimony is corroborated by evidence, and it tells the truth, the judge said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “a sad day for the State of Israel and its citizens,” but he hailed the trial as a sign of the strength of the country’s legal system.
“Today the court sent two clear messages: that everyone is equal before the law, and that a woman has full rights and control over his own body,” said Netanyahu.
Miriam Schler, director of Tel Aviv Sexual Assault Crisis Centre, said she hoped the sentence would send a message to the people of Israel.
“I hope this is also a message to all the victims in Israel, even if they are assaulted by a man of power in a very strong position that the legal system to defend and protect them, she said AFP.
The rape charges against Katsav each carry a sentence of four to 16 years in prison and also faces sentencing on charges of sexual harassment, indecent act, an indecent act with force, and obstruction of justice.
Sentencing is scheduled for January, and was ordered to surrender his passport Katsav.
His lawyer suggested they would appeal, saying: “We have the strength to take it all the way to Jerusalem, where Israel’s Supreme Court is located, local Ynet news site reported.
But the lawyer Moshe Negbi, speaking to Israel Radio, said Katsav chances of success in a call to “zero.”
Thursday’s verdict was the culmination of an amazing grace to drop the Iran-born Katsav, who rose from origins as a poor immigrant boy to perform a function beyond the nation.
One of eight children, Katsav arrived in Israel three years after the independence war of 1948 and became the first resident of his neighborhood to attend Israel’s Hebrew University.
For years, he played the young working class made good. A member of the right-wing party Likud, it was the first conservative president of Israel, and also the first president of the Jewish state to be born in a Muslim country.
He is married since 1969 in Gila, which has stood by him in the allegations and prosecutions, but that was not in court Thursday. They have five children.
Katsav is the second Israeli President to be ousted by allegations of criminal conduct.
Its predecessor, the late Ezer Weizman, was forced to resign in 2000 after revelations that he received nearly $ 450,000 from a French millionaire while he was minister and deputy.
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