Adi Vinter (C)_311.
(photo credit: JOANNA PARASZCZUK)
The Tel Aviv District Court asked state prosecutors on Monday to consider
dropping charges against a woman convicted of taking part in an unlawful
demonstration against former president Moshe Katsav.
RELATED:Katsav's lawyer: We won't request another hearing
Activist Adi Vinter
was given a three months’ suspended sentence and a NIS 3,000 fine in the Tel
Aviv Magistrate’s court in July for blocking traffic during a mass demonstration
Vinter had been protesting against a plea bargain state
prosecutors signed with the former president. That deal, which Katsav rejected
in April 2008, caused fury among women’s groups, because it dropped rape charges
against the former president in return for him agreeing to plead guilty to
sexual harassment and indecent assault.
In July, the court also ruled
that if Vinter did not pay the fine, she would have to spend three months in
However, as she arrived at the courthouse on Monday,
Vinter told The Jerusalem Post
that if her appeal was rejected she was prepared
to go to prison rather than pay the fine, because she believed so strongly both
in her right to demonstrate and in her protest against the plea
“I feel that what I did was right,” she said. “And now I must
pay the price for that, even though I believe there should not be a price. Right
now, everyone is talking about the exclusion of women, and this is a reminder
that women from all walks of life, not just haredi women, should fight for their
place in society and pay the price for daring to make their voices
Vinter added that Katsav’s eventual trial and rape conviction
proved demonstrators had been right to protest against the plea
“After Katsav was convicted, a lot was said about equality
before the law,” said Vinter. “But the state did not want to bring him to
trial. Now I’m being tried in court because I protested against
In Monday’s hearing, a panel of three judges – Drora Berliner,
Miriam Sokolov and George Kara – asked state prosecutors to examine whether they
are prepared to drop the charges against Vinter.
Kara was one of the three Tel Aviv District Court judges who convicted Katsav of
rape in 2010.
Vinter’s attorney, Gaby Lasky, argued that although four
other women were arrested and indicted alongside Vinter, none of the others were
Lasky asked the court to also consider the context of the
indictment against Vinter, which she said was “public rage” against the state
attorney’s decision to drop rape charges in a plea bargain with
“[Vinter] raised her voice and disrupted traffic for a moment to
point out the terrible injustice perpetrated by the government and the State
Attorney’s Office. If [Vinter] and others had not acted, Katsav would not have
been brought to justice,” said Lasky, arguing that there were grounds for the
charges against Vinter to be dropped.
Attorney Hadas Gedanken Shafir, for
the state, argued that the demonstration had taken place without a license, and
said that in arresting Vinter the police had acted within their role of
maintaining public order.
The court ordered the prosecution to file a
probation service report examining the possibility of dropping the charges by
February 15, but said that if no agreement could be reached between the sides,
it would issue a legal ruling in the case.
During the hearing, Vinter’s
supporters held a small demonstration outside the courthouse, waving banners
with slogans that read “sending women protesters to jail is political
Vinter has also received support from women’s and civil
rights groups, including Itach – Women Lawyers for Social Justice, the Coalition
of Women for Peace, Physicians for Human Rights, Yesh Din and the Haifa Feminist
Center, which signed a statement on Sunday in support of Vinter and against her
“In a reality where women still have to fight for their
voices to be heard, Adi’s conviction sends a disturbing message about the right
to protest, instead of strengthening demonstrators,” the statement read.