Katsav after sentencing_311(r).
A day after the former president was sentenced to seven years in prison,
Katsav’s lawyers are already planning their appeal to the Supreme Court. In an
interview with The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, Katsav’s attorney Zion Amir said
the ex-president was convinced of his innocence and would see the case through
to the end.
“Katsav will go before the Supreme Court with his head held
high, with full conviction of the justness of his claims and with faith that the
Supreme Court will lend an ear to his arguments,” said Amir.
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that in light of the sentencing, and particularly in light of the minority
opinion expressed by Judge Judith Shevach, the defense was convinced that there
is a possibility that both the sentence and the conviction would be
“We believe that the District Court convicted Katsav based on
shaky and unfounded testimony.
The District Court’s decision to believe
the testimony of the complainants over that of Katsav was poor and
unsubstantiated,” said Amir. “The conviction verdict was wrong and we will
present our arguments to the Supreme Court.”
Katsav was convicted in
December of rape, sexual harassment, witness tampering and obstruction of
The judges convicted him unanimously and stated that they
wholeheartedly accepted the victims’ version of the events over
When it came to sentencing, however, the decision was not so
harmonious. Whereas both Judges George Karra and Miriam Sokolov agreed that
Katsav should be sent to seven years in jail, Judge Shevach set the punishment
at four years. She argued that the suffering inflicted on Katsav as a result of
a vocal media campaign against him justified lessening the
Haifa University law professor Emanuel Gross, as opposed to
Amir, said he thought the chance of the Supreme Court overturning the sentence
is slim and the chance of them overturning the verdict is virtually
“Lacking much in the way of physical evidence, the
conviction was based on the judges’ overwhelming belief in the victims’ version
of the story, after hearing testimony from both sides. When it comes to cases of
trust and determining who told the truth, there is a standing practice of the
higher court not intervening in the lower court’s decision. The justice system
as a rule puts its faith in the judges who heard the testimony firsthand, and I
can’t see the Supreme Court breaking from that practice in this case,” said
“When it comes to the sentencing, however, there is a slightly
larger chance that the Supreme Court will reconsider, especially with the
minority opinion voiced by Shevach,” said Gross. “There is precedent of the
Supreme Court adopting the minority opinion.”
Gross said that sentencing
is more of an art than a science, and that judges had much more subjective
leeway when it comes to determining punishment.
Both the minority and the
majority opinions presented by the judges started from the same point, the
maximum punishment for rape – 16 years, he said. The difference was in their
estimate of mitigating factors for punishment. Here, too, all the judges agreed
that time should be taken off because of the suffering Katsav experienced
throughout the trial, only that Judge Shevach gave it more weight.
convinced that the injustice that was done to Katsav by the public and the media
was significant, the Supreme Court may agree with Shevach and lighten the
sentence to four years, or even lower. I personally don’t think they will go any
lower than four; but lacking a minimum threshold, anything is theoretically
possible,” said Gross.
“As a rule the Supreme Court only changes a
verdict if they identify that a severe injustice was done. Normally, they don’t
rejudge a case on its merits.”
The women protesters who have accompanied
the trial from the beginning in support of Katsav’s victims vowed to continue
coming out and expressing their support once the appeal hearings
Miriam Schler, from the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in
Israel, said they had been coming out for four-and-a-half years and would
continue to do so in order to help make sure justice was done.
continue to be here along the way, and we will be here for any woman who needs
us,” said Schler.
She added that, since Katsav’s conviction, there has
been an increase in the number of complaints to the police about
She said the court’s decision to convict Katsav reinstated the
public’s lost faith in the legal system.
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