Date, justices selected for Katsav conviction appeal

Former president will get final chance to clear his name in August, Courts Administration says; court allows him to remain under house arrest.

katsav in court wistful 311 (photo credit: Lior Mizrahi/ Pool)
katsav in court wistful 311
(photo credit: Lior Mizrahi/ Pool)
The appeal of former President Moshe Katsav, sentenced by the Tel Aviv District Court to seven years in prison following his conviction in March on charges of rape, sexual harassment and obstruction of justice, will be heard starting August 8, the Courts Administration announced on Monday.
The judges selected to hear the appeal are Supreme Court Justices Miriam Naor, Edna Arbel and Salim Joubran.
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Last week, Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger ruled that Katsav would remain free until the end of his appeal, following a request by his lawyers for a stay. The ruling raised the ire of women’s rights groups, which felt that Katsav was being given preferential treatment, arguing that he should be treated like any sex offender.
It also raised questions about part of Katsav’s conviction, which could have a bearing on the outcome of his appeal.
Danziger identified several judicial decisions by the district court panel, which, if interpreted differently by the Supreme Court, could lead to his acquittal on the rape charge. Key to this could be the judges’ decision not to consider a secondary defense presented by Katsav’s lawyers – although not by Katsav himself – that he did not use force, but rather his seniority, to commit the offense.
If this argument is considered and found to be grounded in fact, the judges might acquit him of rape, wrote Danziger. So far, Katsav has denied having had sex with the victims, which is why the district court judges refused to deliberate the secondary defense.
Katsav was convicted of having twice raped Alef, his head of office at the Tourism Ministry, once in a hotel room and once in his office. His lawyers based their defense on disputing Alef’s testimony, providing as evidence, among other things, the diaries of Katsav and a staff member, who Katsav supposedly was meeting with at the time of the offense. The judges ruled out using the diaries, reasoning that they could have been tampered with.
The Courts Administration instructed lawyers for both sides to schedule August 8, 10 and 11 for the hearings, but to hold aside August 15 and 16 as well.