(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
In an angry rebuttal, former president Moshe Katsav's lawyers on Sunday told Tel Aviv District Court that they rejected the state's request to hold the entire trial behind closed doors except for the defendant's response to the charges against him.
"Those whose dignity and privacy the state wishes to protect, and above all Tourism Ministry Aleph, but to a no lesser degree the other witnesses, long ago waived their privacy and were repeatedly interviewed and told their stories in great detail about what, allegedly, happened to them," wrote attorneys Zion Amir, Avigdor Feldman and Avraham Lavie. "Their statements received maximum publicity in headlines, television interviews, in-depth features and color articles in all the television networks and all the newspapers.
"The thought that their testimony and cross-examination in court, of all things, will be conducted in secret, behind the broad and compassionate back of the prosecution, is sickening. The interviews and stories that were conducted in public and anywhere you can think of, caused critical damage to [Katsav.] They did not cause harm to his privacy, because the things they accused him of never happened, but to his dignity, his identity and his status. Now, when the defendant is given the opportunity to refute the accusations in a proper and fair cross-examination, the curtain is drawn on these testimonies. This will not happen."
The lawyers agreed to the state's request to refrain from publishing the names of the women who complained about Katsav's behavior towards them, even though, they added, anyone who wanted to could discover their identities.
On May 13, a day before the Katsav trial formally opened, the prosecutors, Ronit Amiel and Nissim Mirom, asked the court to agree to hold the trial behind closed doors.
"In these circumstances, when we are dealing with a matter that has to do entirely with serious sexual crimes, the principle [of open hearings] must give way to the need to protect the complainants and to question the witnesses freely and without fear," they wrote.
The panel of three judges presiding over the case and headed by George Karra will now rule on the state's request.