Jerusalem: Israel`s former president, Moshe Katsav, said in interviews published on Wednesday that he is a
"wreck" after being sentenced to seven years in prison for
rape, but insisted he was innocent and vowed never to stop
fighting to clear his name.
The remarks, published in the Yediot and Maariv dailies,
were Katsav`s first public statements since Israel`s Supreme
Court rejected his appeal last week.
The court upheld a ruling that Katsav, 65, raped a former
employee while he was a Cabinet minister and sexually harassed
two other women during his presidency from 2000 to 2007. He is
to report to prison next month to start serving his sentence.
In the interviews, Katsav described himself as a victim
of a grave injustice, saying that while he respected the
judges` decision, he believed they made a mistake by accepting
his victims` testimony over his own.
Katsav also suggested he was the victim of a conspiracy,
telling Yediot that "there were also politicians who stood
behind the accusations against me."
The former president has repeatedly professed his
innocence since the accusations against him first surfaced
five years ago. However, for the first time, he apologised if
any women were hurt by his actions.
Nonetheless, he said he would never stop fighting to
prove his innocence."The justice of my cause will come to
light even if it is after my death," he told Yediot.
One of Katsav`s lawyers has expressed concerns that
Katsav could be suicidal, and Yediot said that rumours spread
in the ex-president`s hometown after the court ruling that he
had taken his life.
"I didn`t commit suicide and I don`t intend to commit
suicide," Katsav told Yediot. "I have promised my family to be
strong, but even iron that takes the kind of blows that I have
taken over the past five years ultimately bends."
Israel`s presidency is a largely ceremonial office,
typically filled by a respected elder statesman expected to
rise above politics and serve as a moral compass. Most
political power is concentrated in the hands of the prime
The case against Katsav, which broke in 2006 after he
told police one of his accusers was trying to extort money
from him, shocked Israelis by portraying a man widely seen as
a bland functionary as a predatory boss who repeatedly used
authority to force sexual favours.
Katsav reluctantly resigned two weeks before his
seven-year term was to expire in 2007 under a plea bargain
that would have allowed him to escape jail time.