Former president Moshe Katsav in court 311.
(photo credit: Alex Kolomoiski / Pool)
In the second day of Moshe Katsav’s Supreme Court appeal of his rape conviction
on Wednesday, defense attorney Zion Amir said the former president’s character
had been denigrated by the media during his trial.
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
The former president appeared alternatively stonyfaced and
emotional as he watched proceedings, flanked by family members.
point, Katsav interrupted justices and complained that “an ordinary citizen
would not have been tried in court.”
Defense attorney Amir told the panel
of justices – Miriam Naor, Edna Arbel and Salim Joubran – that since the
investigation and trial began the former president had undergone a “character
assassination” in the media and also argued that the media’s “lynching” of
Katsav had permeated into the District Court’s ruling.
press interviews given by MK Shelly Yacimovich, who met with “Alef” from the
Tourism Ministry, the complainant in Katsav’s rape trial, in 2006.
also argued that the prison sentence imposed on Katsav was far too harsh and
that the former president had suffered terrible humiliation over the past five
In Wednesday’s hearing, Katsav’s defense team mostly focused on
the charges of sexual harassment and indecent acts for which the former
president was convicted in December, in addition to the two counts of
Katsav was convicted of sexual harassment against “Heh,” a woman
who worked in the President’s Office, and sexual harassment and indecent acts
against “Lamed,” then an 18- year-old national service volunteer in the
Amir said that the charges brought against the former
president by Heh and Lamed boiled down to the fact that he had hugged
“I ask you, does the court know whether there has ever been an
indictment in the country’s history like that?” said Amir. “Have there ever been
such complainants?” Amir said that the hugs were not sexual acts and did not
constitute sexual harassment.
Amir told the court that there was no
argument that Katsav had given Lamed a hug, calling it an “innocent embrace”
without any sexual intent.
In his testimony to the Tel Aviv District
Court during his rape trial, Katsav admitted hugging Lamed in his office but
said he had done so to thank her for her hard work in helping organize his
Amir argued that Lamed had only later said that Katsav
told her she had “sensual lips,” and argued that she had added this in order to
strengthen her story.
He also said that in her testimony Lamed had been
unsure about how many hugs Katsav had given her.
He told the court that
there had been a process by which Katsav had been demonized and turned into a
“sex monster,” and argued that their various testimonies show that both Heh and
Lamed had not originally felt sexually harassed by Katsav.
claimed, the testimonies of both women had evolved over time and cited instances
in which their versions had changed.
Initially, Lamed had said Katsav had
given her a “fatherly” hug, argued Amir, but later she changed her version, and
in 2009 said it was sexual, and added other details, including that the former
president had sniffed at her neck.
Amir questioned whether a “wise girl”
like Lamed, who had the support of her family, would have been afraid to tell
the truth about the hug immediately after it happened if it made her
“Why would she wait until 2009 to talk about an event that
happened in 2005?” asked Amir.
Amir also asked the court to consider
whether the police went looking for other women to testify against Katsav in the
original investigation into events in his office.
That investigation was
actually sparked by a complaint that Katsav himself brought to the Attorney
General in 2006. He claimed that a woman – known only as “Alef from the
President’s Residence” – was trying to blackmail him. However, that
investigation switched from a blackmail investigation to rape allegations as
several harassment complaints about Katsav emerged.
Katsav’s appeal will
continue tomorrow and may also run over into extra sessions next
week.Dan Izenberg, Ron Friedman and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to