Katsav won't begin 7-year rape sentence next week

Former president's legal team secures grace period while appeal for severity of sentence is processed in the Supreme Court.

May 3, 2011 16:29
2 minute read.
Katsav after sentencing_311(r)

Katsav after sentencing_311(r). (photo credit: REUTERS)

Former president Moshe Katsav will not enter prison on Sunday as ordered by the Tel Aviv District Court, and instead will remain free pending a final decision on his request to stay the sentence until his appeal is complete, Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger ruled on Tuesday.

On Monday, Katsav’s lawyers filed an appeal to the Supreme Court over the lower court’s decisions to convict him of rape and sexual harassment, and then sentence him to seven years in prison.

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Danziger set May 11 as the date for a hearing over whether the former head of state can stay out of prison until the end of the appeal process. Until then, Katsav will be allowed to continue life as usual, except for not being able to leave the country.

In the hearing, the judge will have to decide whether the chances of a successful appeal are good enough to warrant Katsav remaining free, or whether to order him jailed and have him attend the appeal hearings as a ward of the Prisons Service.

In their request to have the sentence postponed, Katsav’s defense team, made up of attorneys Zion Amir, Avigdor Feldman, Avraham Levi and Mickey Hova, wrote: “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 honorable court, with the appellant arriving as a free man and not brought from the prison to the Supreme Court in shackles.”

The lawyers also asked for special consideration in light of Katsav’s former status, who as president represented the state in Israel and around the world. The defense team warned of the shame that would fall on the country and the court if Katsav was imprisoned and it later turned out he was innocent.

The request preempted the State Attorney’s Office anticipated response that the appeal had no chance, by quoting extensively from the state’s own arguments before the Supreme Court, in 2007, arguing in favor of reaching a plea bargain with Katsav because of shaky evidence, taking it as a sign that the chances of a successful appeal were actually good.

Katsav’s spokesman declined to comment on the developments.

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