Katsav 'maintains innocence' ahead of prison service

In 'New York Times' interview former president says Israel is becoming like Saudi Arabia: "A hug is a sex offense."

Katsav support demonstration, Knesset_311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Katsav support demonstration, Knesset_311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Former president Moshe Katsav maintained his innocence on Tuesday, the day before he was scheduled to begin serving a seven-year prison term for convictions of rape and sexual harassment.
“When I was president, I received 10,000 pardon requests,” he said. “They all claimed they had been the victims of injustice. I am so sorry that I immediately rejected those claims. Now I believe that some of them were innocent,” Katsav told The New York Times in an interview at his home in Kiryat Malachi.
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Katsav to be under suicide watch in prison “I’m about to pay the price for something I haven’t done,” Katsav told the Times. “I’ve hugged and kissed women but not in an inappropriate way. We’ve become like Saudi Arabia. A hug is a sex offense.”
Following the Supreme Court's rejection of Katsav's appeal, the former president expressed resentment that he was not allowed to testify before the High Court.
According to one close friend, David Mot'ei, who visited the former president at his Kiryat Malachi home, Katsav said that he thought the Supreme Court should have "heard his arguments, but the [judicial] system was not listening."Katsav told Mot'ei that despite a seven-year prison sentence, "nothing could break him."
According to Mot'ei, who spoke to the press outside of Katsav's house, the former president appeared strong, and that despite the ruling, Katsav was sure that he "knew the truth."
The court rejected Katsav's defense that Aleph, Katsav's victim, lied in her version of the encounter between the two because she didn't complain at the time of the incident but waited until later. The ruling said there was no doubt that Katsav carried out the act with force.
The court also did not accept the line of defense that there was a romance between Aleph and Katsav.
Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report.