Katsav gets reprieve in sex harassment case

Ex-Israeli president was sentenced to seven years in prison for rape and sexual harassment.

Updated: May 18, 2011, 21:27 PM IST

Jerusalem: Disgraced former Israeli
president, Moshe Katsav on Wednesday got a reprieve from the Supreme
Court which ruled that he can stay out of jail, pending the
outcome of his appeal in cases of rape and sexual harassment.

Katsav, 65, was sentenced to seven years in prison for
two counts of rape and sexual harassment in December, last
year. He has denied the charges, claiming he is a victim of a
political witch hunt.

The decision announced gives the former president
months of freedom.

The court was convened last week to hear the former
President`s appeal, who claimed that the sexual relations with
the complainant were consensual.

He was convicted in December of two counts of rape
against the complainant, publicly identified as `A` from the
Tourism Ministry, and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

He was supposed to begin his sentence on May 8, but
was allowed to remain free, when the Supreme Court accepted
his request to stay out of jail pending the outcome of his

In his ruling, Supreme Court Judge Yoram Danziger
wrote that his chances for appeal warrant his remaining free
until the appeal process is complete.

However, the judge stressed that his decision did not
constitute judicial ruling in favour of either of the sides.

The prosecution said in its argument against the
appeal that "refraining from putting Katsav in prison could
eat away at the public`s belief in the court system,"
Katsav`s attorney Avigdor Feldman said at the start of the
hearing that there was no concern that his client would evade
justice if his prison term was delayed, and added that he did
not pose a threat to society.

"It would be far better that this case, which went
through so many and such extreme tribulations and with all of
its uniqueness, be heard in this honourable court, with the
appellant arriving as a free man and not brought from the
prison to the Supreme Court in shackles," his lawyers said in
a request to postpone his sentence.

The disgraced former Israeli leader was set to begin
his sentence on May 8. He was also ordered to post a 100,000
Shekels personal bail guarantee. The appeal process is likely
to take several months.

He served as the eighth President of Israel, a leading
Likud member of the Israeli Knesset, and a Cabinet Minister in
its government.