Female legal sources say Katsav case far from over

Say media distorting the picture.

The proceedings against former president Moshe Katsav are only beginning, according to senior female sources in the legal world. "The attorney-general's decision [to accept a plea bargain] will be judged by its acceptability to all sides. In the past, it was not common for a court panel to interfere with the attorney-general's decision unless it was based on defective reasoning. But nowadays it is more customary to question a decision when it does not meet the public's satisfaction," retired district court judge Sara Sirota told The Jerusalem Post. According to Sirota and colleagues who asked to remain unidentified, it is possible that the judges who will be asked to accept the plea bargain on Thursday may reject it because it contradicts the evidence, or is unreasonable. "Usually, the prosecutor's office works to find the evidence... I don't know what happened in this case," Sirota said. While the High Court of Justice's rejection of petitions against the plea bargain on Tuesday has been emphasized in the media, some legal officials insist that this blurs the true picture. "The entire report in the media was based on a misunderstanding. The High Court of Justice rejected the women's organizations' petitions to nullify the plea bargain... However, the plea bargain continues, it has not been accepted yet," a senior legal official said. "The court didn't reject a plea bargain between the two sides. Now the discussions are over... punishment... and moral turpitude. Usually, the court accepts the plea bargain regarding the felonies the accused person admits he or she committed, but sometimes the court decides to harden or to ease the punishment if it does not fit the crime," the official said. While most female legal officials said on Wednesday that the judges would probably not take issue with the charges in the plea bargain indictment, the assumptions are that the next panel will rule that Katsav's offensives involve moral turpitude. Despite the unresolved issues, the representatives of women's organizations who conducted a protest march on Wednesday evening from Kikar Rabin to the Tel Aviv Prosecutor's offices, were not comforted. Several hundred people participated in the march. "We made the voices of sexually harassed women heard. The High Court of Justice's decision prevented them from speaking and telling of the things they have gone through," Einat Rubin, spokeswoman of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, told the Post. "They accepted a plea bargain instead of a fair trial with the complainants' testimonies." "Former president Moshe Katsav is portrayed by his lawyers as a suffering person who was forced to close himself up in his house, but he is not the victim here. The women whose lives were ruined are the victims. The entire society is the victim, since its president admits he committed sexual felonies yet he is not being brought to trial. I only hope the judges will decide the felonies he committed involve moral turpitude. This is not the lesser of two evils, this is plain evil," Rubin said.