Court gives Katsav time to seek additional hearing

Request by former president's legal team for additional hearing before extended panel of Supreme Court justices approved.

By
November 27, 2011 12:36
2 minute read.
Former president Moshe Katsav in court

Former president Moshe Katsav in court 311. (photo credit: Alex Kolomoiski / Pool)

 
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The Supreme Court on Sunday granted former president Moshe Katsav’s defense team more time to file its request for an additional appeal hearing before an extended panel of justices.

Supreme Court registrar Guy Shani announced his decision to extend the deadline for the request until January 8 – adding 45 days to the original 15 allowed by the court – after state prosecutors gave their consent to the move.

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The former head of state was unanimously convicted in the Tel Aviv District Court a year ago of two counts of rape, two counts of sexual harassment and an indecent act using force and obstruction of justice, and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Katsav appealed against both his conviction and sentence.

However, last month, a panel of three Supreme Court justices – Miriam Naor, Edna Arbel and Salim Joubran – ruled unanimously that the district court’s verdict was sound and that Katsav would serve the seven-year prison term.

“A deep sadness falls over the State of Israel because a person who was a minister in the government, the deputy prime minister and the president of the state carried out these acts,” the ruling read.

Last week, Katsav’s lawyers – Avigdor Feldman, Zion Amir, Mickey Hoba and Avraham Lavie – asked for extra time to formulate their arguments against the Supreme Court’s rejection of Katsav’s appeal.



The former president’s defense team said that, after studying the ruling, they believe there are grounds for further discussion before an extended panel of justices.

While the Supreme Court normally sits with a panel of three justices, its president or deputy president may expand that panel to any uneven number.

On rare occasions, the court may also hold an “additional hearing,” in which a panel of five or seven justices will rehear an appeal that was already decided upon by a smaller panel.

In an interview with Channel 1 last week, Feldman said the former president was still “fighting for his innocence” and that his legal team would try to convince the Supreme Court “there was room for further discussion” about his appeal.

Katsav’s legal team did not include a request to delay the imposition of the former president’s prison sentence until the Supreme Court decides whether to allow him a further hearing. Regardless of that decision, Katsav will begin his prison term on December 7 and is expected to share a cell in the religious wing of Ramle’s Ma’asiyahu Prison with former minister Shlomo Benizri.

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