Moshe Katsav walking into court 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post))
The state’s eighth president, Moshe Katsav, will add a dark chapter to Israel’s
history on Wednesday and enter the Ma’asiyahu prison in Ramle to begin a
seven-year sentence for rape and other offenses.
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Still pleading his
innocence, the disgraced president will depart his Kiryat Malachi home, leave
his wife and family behind, and make his way to the minimal security prison
named after an Israelite guard who protected the First Temple.
will be placed in the religious wing of the prison, and will share a cell with
ex-government minister Shlomo Benizri of Shas – a move Prisons Service staff say
will ease the shock from the sudden change of environment.
A warden will
be assigned exclusively to the ex-president to ensure he does not attempt
suicide, Prisons Service chief Aharon Franco said on Tuesday during a Knesset
“We will monitor his acclimatization,” Franco said. A
prison committee will later decide on whether to keep Katsav in his allotted
cell or transfer him elsewhere.
Katsav, who turned 65 on Monday, will be
allowed to wear his own clothes behind bars, though he will have to don Prisons
Service uniform during court appearances, should he make future
The religious wing houses 72 prisoners, is free of televisions,
and inmates spend most of their time in two seminaries studying
The inmates also routinely meet with social workers as part of a
The former president was unanimously convicted in
the Tel Aviv District Court a year ago of two counts of rape, two counts of
sexual harassment, an indecent act using force, and obstruction of
The court sentenced him to seven years in prison.
judgement, the court said the testimony of the main complainant in the case, a
woman known only as “Alef” from the Tourism Ministry, was credible. Alef
testified Katsav had raped her twice, first in his office and then two months
later in the Sheraton Hotel in Jerusalem.
Although the court sentenced Katsav to seven years in prison, in May, Supreme
Court Justice Yoram Danziger agreed to stay the former president’s jail term
until his appeal was heard.
In August, the Supreme Court heard that
appeal against both Katsav’s conviction and sentence. The former president’s
lawyers, Zion Amir and Avigdor Feldman, reiterated a line of defense rejected by
the district court in which Katsav and Alef had a romance, which included
consensual sexual relations.
However, in November, after three months of
deliberations, the panel of Supreme Court justices – Miriam Naor, Edna Arbel and
Salim Joubran – stated unanimously that the district court’s verdict was sound
and Katsav would serve the seven-year prison term imposed by the lower
“A great sadness falls on the State of Israel when a former
government minister, deputy prime minister and president is found to have
committed such acts,” the justices said. “The most difficult scene to witness is
that of a national icon, someone who served the country, being sent to prison.”