Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

Google Was Making A Space Elevator And A Hoverboard, But Couldn't Get Them To Work

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bitter pill to swallow

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Investors take fright over Google results

Read more

DEBATE

What's Putin's Plan? Kiev Accuses Russia of Terrorism

Read more

DEBATE

What's Putin's Plan? Kiev Accuses Russia of Terrorism (part 2)

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Rwandan singer amongst terror plot suspects

Read more

FOCUS

Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: Online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

ENCORE!

Art, sex, money, memory and manga

Read more

  • Algeria heads to the polls: ‘This election has nothing to do with us’

    Read more

  • Frantic search for survivors of sunken South Korea ferry

    Read more

  • Pro-Russian separatists killed in attack on Black Sea base

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

  • Man executed in Texas for 2002 triple murder

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies at 92

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in DR Congo

    Read more

  • Crunch talks on Ukraine to begin in Geneva

    Read more

  • Stagehand of God? Maradona's legendary goal inspires a play

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • N. Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • Real Madrid beat old foes Barcelona to lift Copa del Rey

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    Read more

  • More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in northeast Nigeria

    Read more

  • New York police disband unit targeting Muslims

    Read more

  • 'Miracle girl' healthy after seven-organ transplant in Paris

    Read more

  • Paris police memo calling for Roma eviction ‘rectified’

    Read more

  • Burgundy digs into France's bureaucratic 'mille-feuille'

    Read more

  • French court drops ‘hate speech’ case against Bob Dylan

    Read more

  • Algeria rights crackdown slammed ahead of election

    Read more

Middle east

Israeli court finds former president guilty of rape

©

Video by Stephen Clarke

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-12-31

An Israeli court has convicted former President Moshe Katsav on two counts of rape for assaulting a former employee, capping a highly-publicised legal saga that has seen the most serious charges ever waged against an Israeli public official.

AP -Former Israel President Moshe Katsav was convicted Thursday of raping an employee when he was a Cabinet minister, the most serious criminal charges ever brought against a high-ranking official and a case that shocked the nation.

Katsav, 65, faces a minimum of four years and up to 16 years in prison on two counts of raping an employee in 1998 when he was tourism minister. The Tel Aviv District Court also convicted him on lesser counts of indecent acts and sexual harassment involving two other women who worked for him when he was president.
 
Katsav served as a minister in several right-wing Likud governments before he was elected president in 2000. He claimed he was an innocent victim of a political witch hunt, suggesting he was targeted because he comes from Israel’s Sephardic community. Sephardic Jews, of Middle Eastern origin, were for decades an underclass. Katsav was born in Iran and immigrated to Israel as a child.
 
A somber Katsav left the courtroom without commenting, surrounded by his high-powered legal team. He was ordered to surrender his passport while awaiting sentencing at a date that has not yet been set. His son Boaz vowed his father would clear his name.
 
“We will continue to walk with our heads high and all the nation ... with God’s help, will know that father, the eighth president of the state of Israel, is innocent,” he said.
 
Katsav’s case initially broke in 2006, when the then-president complained that a female employee was extorting him. The woman then went to police with her side of the story, detailing a series of sexual assaults and prompting other women to come forward with similar complaints.
 
According to the indictment, Katsav forced one woman to the floor of his office at the Tourism Ministry in 1998 and raped her. A second time that year, he summoned her to a Jerusalem hotel to go over paperwork and raped her on the bed in his room. The indictment alleged that Katsav tried to calm his victim by saying: “Relax, you’ll enjoy it.”
 
The indictment also alleged that he harassed two women during his term as president, embracing them against their will and making unwanted sexual comments.
 
On Katsav’s 60th birthday in 2005, an assistant offered congratulations.
 
He then hugged her at length, sniffing her neck, according to the indictment. She complained to police, and the indictment said Katsav later tried to persuade her to change her testimony, earning him an additional charge of obstruction of justice.
 
The conviction by a three-judge panel was widely praised as a victory for Israel’s legal system and for women’s rights - a sentiment reflected in the reaction of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
 
“The court sent two clear and sharp messages: that everyone is equal and every woman has the full right to her body,” he said in a statement. He called the verdict a sad day for Israel and its citizens.
 
Katsav can appeal the verdict or seek a presidential pardon.
 
The conviction capped a four-and-a-half year saga that stunned Israelis, both with its lurid details and bizarre twists and turns.
 
Katsav resigned in 2007, two weeks before his seven-year term expired, under a plea bargain that would have required him to admit to lesser charges of sexual misconduct. He was replaced by elder statesman and Nobel peace laureate Shimon Peres.
 
But in a dramatic reversal in April 2009, Katsav rejected the deal, which would have kept him out of jail, and vowed to clear his name in court.
 
Around that time, he held a news conference in which he lashed out at prosecutors and the media and denied any wrongdoing. His behavior, in which he shook in anger and screamed at reporters in the room, was widely criticized.
 
The president in Israel is head of state but a largely ceremonial post, representing the country at ceremonies around the world. The post, filled by parliament, is traditionally given to an elder statesman as a reward for years of public service.
 
Katsav’s case sparked a high-profile campaign by woman’s right groups. On Thursday, hundreds of women stood outside the courtroom holding signs against Katsav and chanting: “The whole nation knows Katsav is a criminal.”
 
Prosecutor Ronit Amiel said the verdict sent a strong message that victims of abuse of power should not keep silent.
 
“This day is not a happy day. It is not an easy day,” she said.
 
Oren Gazal-Ayal, a professor of criminal justice at Haifa University, called the verdict a “badge of honor” for the country’s legal system.
 
“I think we should be very proud of the Israeli justice system,” he said, noting that he knew of no parallel worldwide to such a case.
 
The conviction was the latest in a series of high-profile cases against Israeli officials.
 
Former Israeli Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson is currently in prison after being convicted of embezzling more than $600,000 from a workers union. Former Justice Minister Haim Ramon was convicted in March 2007 of forcibly kissing a female soldier. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is currently standing trial on corruption charges.

 

 

Date created : 2010-12-30

Comments

COMMENT(S)