Court rejects Katsav request to change appeal dates

Ex-president's lawyers had requested rescheduling due to conflict with vacation plans; hearing moved up one day due to Tisha Be'av.

Katsav (photo credit: Mor Aloni)
(photo credit: Mor Aloni)
The High Court rejected on Monday a request by former president Moshe Katsav’s lawyers to change the dates of his upcoming appeal hearings, scheduled to begin August 8, 2011.
The lawyers requested changing the hearing dates, arguing that they fell on the court’s summer recess and that they had made vacation plans with their families.
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The court’s response said that despite understanding the defense lawyers’s desire to go on vacation with their families during the recess period, what stood in the balance was the need to hear the appeal in as short a time as possible.
The court’s decision stressed that the Courts Administration had made a special effort to schedule the hearings during the recess in order to influence as little as possible the court dates of other petitioners who were scheduled to go before the court.
The court did agree to start the hearings one day earlier out of consideration to Katsav who asked not to attend court on the Jewish holiday of the eve of Tisha Be'av.
On Sunday evening, Katsav’s lawyers requested that the court expand the number of judges scheduled to hear the case, from three, to five or seven. The lawyers argued that since an expanded panel of High Court judges heard Katsav’s 2009 appeal against his plea bargain, it was only reasonable that an expanded panel also hear his appeal over his conviction and sentencing.
In an interview to Army Radio, on Monday, Katsav lawyer Avraham Levi said that due to the unique nature of the case, an expanded panel was justified, but rejected claims that they wanted its expansion because they were hoping for more lenient judges to be appointed.
Katsav was convicted in December of rape and sexual harassment and sentenced in March to seven years in prison. Earlier this month, Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger ruled in favor of staying the execution of Katsav’s punishment until his appeal process is complete.