'Katsav may have had sexual relations with Alef'

Former president’s defense says Alef’s testimony full of contradictions, claims there was no rape, suggests may have been consensual sex.

katsav in court wistful 311 (photo credit: Lior Mizrahi/ Pool)
katsav in court wistful 311
(photo credit: Lior Mizrahi/ Pool)
Attorneys in former president Moshe Katsav’s appeal introduced a new line of defense Sunday, and said that there was a possibility the former president did have sex with “Alef,” the main complainant in the rape trial – but that the relations were consensual.
Katsav was convicted in December of two counts of rape, two counts of sexual harassment, an indecent act using force, and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.
RELATED:Katsav arrives at Supreme Court to appeal convictionBan lifted on Katsav trial testimony: "He really raped me."
In a ruling in May that caused outrage among women’s rights groups, Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger stayed Katsav’s sentence until his appeal process is complete.
The former president has categorically denied all the charges against him, and testified in the Tel Aviv District Court that he “never ever harassed [Alef]; never, ever committed any obscene act.”
Katsav’s defense attorney, Avigdor Feldman, told the justices on Sunday that the evidence pointed to the possibility that consensual relations had taken place between the former president and Alef.
If that were the case, Katsav’s actions would have constituted an abuse of authority but not rape, Feldman claimed.
In court Sunday, Feldman slammed Alef’s testimony, saying it was full of contradictions.
According to Katsav’s defense team, Alef lied about the two rapes and sexual harassment offenses first to police investigators, and later in court.
Feldman discussed the rape Alef said occurred at the Sheraton Hotel in Jerusalem in June 1998.
He told the court Alef contradicted herself in her testimony over events she claims took place in the Sheraton.
According to Alef, the Sheraton rape took place two months after Katsav had raped her in his office.
She had testified that Katsav told her he wanted to meet her in the Sheraton lobby to review work materials. When she arrived, Katsav invited her to a hotel room where, according to the indictment sheet, “the accused drew close to the plaintiff, pushed her on to the bed and, although she resisted, stripped off her pants and her underwear in one pull.”
Alef testified that she resisted having sex with the accused, but he did not listen to her requests that he stop or to her attempts to resist. She said Katsav told her to “calm down, you’ll enjoy it.” Feldman told the court that Alef’s version of events was implausible.
“Would a senior minister really invite his employee to come work in a hotel lobby, and would she really accept that?” asked Feldman.
Feldman also questioned the part of Alef’s testimony in which she had said Katsav had been partially undressed when he opened the door of his hotel room.
In one version, Alef said the former president’s shirt was unbuttoned over his trousers, but in another she testified that Katsav had been in his underwear.
These differences are evidence Alef fabricated the rape story, the defense claimed.
Feldman said this pattern of events does not fit with the claim that Katsav had planned to rape Alef in the Sheraton.
Neither did it fit with Alef’s testimony that Katsav had raped her two months before that in his office, Feldman claimed.
However, Justice Salim Joubran told Feldman that Alef could hardly have been expected to “record every detail of an event such as this,” especially as it had taken place years before.
"It’s impossible to expect the complainant to keep a diary of what the defendant did to her, especially after several years,” Joubran noted.
Joubran also pointed out that Alef had consistently testified the sexual relations were not consensual.
Katsav’s defense team introduced a detailed timeline of events that they say took place on the day of the alleged Sheraton rape, mostly reconstructed around phone calls that Alef received and made.
The defense claim that these phone records – which include several calls made and received on Alef’s cellphone around the time of the Sheraton rape, as well as calls from her friends and one to Katsav made from Alef’s home phone shortly after the time she claims she had run home afterwards and showered – are evidence a rape did not occur.
The phone records presented by the defense begin with a room booking faxed at 5:40 p.m. in Katsav’s name to the Sheraton. That fax was sent from the Tourism Ministry and signed by Alef.
At 6 p.m., after Alef made the reservation, she left the Tourism Ministry and went to the Sheraton Hotel, where she arrived at 6:15 p.m., the defense says.
During that time she made and received several calls, including one from the Sheraton.
Feldman suggested there had been sexual relations between Katsav and Alef, but those relations had been consensual.
However, Joubran asked Feldman why, if the sexual relations had been consensual, had Katsav not testified to that effect.
“Even if he didn’t tell the truth, he has an alibi,” Feldman said.
The next hearings in Katsav’s appeal will take place on Wednesday and Thursday and there may be additional hearings next week.
Rebecca Anna Stoil, Ron Friedman and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.