Attorneys in former president Moshe Katsav’s appeal introduced a new line of
defense Sunday, and said that there was a possibility the former president did
have sex with “Alef,” the main complainant in the rape trial – but that the
relations were consensual.
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Katsav was convicted in December of two counts
of rape, two counts of sexual harassment, an indecent act using force, and
obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.
ruling in May that caused outrage among women’s rights groups, Supreme Court
Justice Yoram Danziger stayed Katsav’s sentence until his appeal process is
The former president has categorically denied all the charges
against him, and testified in the Tel Aviv District Court that he “never ever
harassed [Alef]; never, ever committed any obscene act.”
attorney, Avigdor Feldman, told the justices on Sunday that the evidence pointed
to the possibility that consensual relations had taken place between the former
president and Alef.
If that were the case, Katsav’s actions would have
constituted an abuse of authority but not rape, Feldman claimed.
Sunday, Feldman slammed Alef’s testimony, saying it was full of
According to Katsav’s defense team, Alef lied about the
two rapes and sexual harassment offenses first to police investigators, and
later in court.
Feldman discussed the rape Alef said occurred at the
Sheraton Hotel in Jerusalem in June 1998.
He told the court Alef
contradicted herself in her testimony over events she claims took place in the
According to Alef, the Sheraton rape took place two months
after Katsav had raped her in his office.
She had testified that Katsav
told her he wanted to meet her in the Sheraton lobby to review work materials.
When she arrived, Katsav invited her to a hotel room where, according to the
indictment sheet, “the accused drew close to the plaintiff, pushed her on to the
bed and, although she resisted, stripped off her pants and her underwear in one
Alef testified that she resisted having sex with the accused, but
he did not listen to her requests that he stop or to her attempts to resist. She
said Katsav told her to “calm down, you’ll enjoy it.” Feldman told the court
that Alef’s version of events was implausible.
“Would a senior minister
really invite his employee to come work in a hotel lobby, and would she really
accept that?” asked Feldman.
Feldman also questioned the part of Alef’s
testimony in which she had said Katsav had been partially undressed when he
opened the door of his hotel room.
In one version, Alef said the former
president’s shirt was unbuttoned over his trousers, but in another she testified
that Katsav had been in his underwear.
These differences are evidence
Alef fabricated the rape story, the defense claimed.
Feldman said this
pattern of events does not fit with the claim that Katsav had planned to rape
Alef in the Sheraton.
Neither did it fit with Alef’s testimony that
Katsav had raped her two months before that in his office, Feldman
However, Justice Salim Joubran told Feldman that Alef could
hardly have been expected to “record every detail of an event such as this,”
especially as it had taken place years before.
"It’s impossible to expect
the complainant to keep a diary of what the defendant did to her, especially
after several years,” Joubran noted.
Joubran also pointed out that Alef
had consistently testified the sexual relations were not
Katsav’s defense team introduced a detailed timeline of
events that they say took place on the day of the alleged Sheraton rape, mostly
reconstructed around phone calls that Alef received and made.
claim that these phone records – which include several calls made and received
on Alef’s cellphone around the time of the Sheraton rape, as well as calls from
her friends and one to Katsav made from Alef’s home phone shortly after the time
she claims she had run home afterwards and showered – are evidence a rape did
The phone records presented by the defense begin with a room
booking faxed at 5:40 p.m. in Katsav’s name to the Sheraton. That fax was sent
from the Tourism Ministry and signed by Alef.
At 6 p.m., after Alef made
the reservation, she left the Tourism Ministry and went to the Sheraton Hotel,
where she arrived at 6:15 p.m., the defense says.
During that time she
made and received several calls, including one from the Sheraton.
suggested there had been sexual relations between Katsav and Alef, but those
relations had been consensual.
However, Joubran asked Feldman why, if the
sexual relations had been consensual, had Katsav not testified to that
“Even if he didn’t tell the truth, he has an alibi,” Feldman
The next hearings in Katsav’s appeal will take place on Wednesday
and Thursday and there may be additional hearings next week.Rebecca Anna
Stoil, Ron Friedman and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.