Katsav’s sentencing to be open to public

Proceedings, however, to be held behind closed doors.

Serial rapist Moshe Katsav 311 AP (photo credit: AP)
Serial rapist Moshe Katsav 311 AP
(photo credit: AP)
The pleas for sentencing in former president Moshe Katsav’s trial will be held behind closed doors, after Tel Aviv District Court Judge George Karra on Monday denied media requests to be allowed into the courtroom to hear the sides’ arguments for a stiff or lenient punishment.
However, Karra and the other judges, Miriam Sokolow and Judith Shevach, agreed to allow the media to attend the hearing at which the court is due to announce the sentence, provided the identity of the victims remained secret. The judges also agreed to make the transcript of Katsav’s testimony and those of other witnesses public after the courts finished sentencing him.
The pre-sentencing arguments are scheduled to begin on February 22 and are expected to take place over several days.
In December, Katsav was convicted on two counts of rape, indecent assault, sexual harassment and other violations.
With the exception of a censored version of the full ruling to convict Katsav, almost no transcripts of court proceedings have been released, and the entire trial was held behind closed doors. The state said the veil of secrecy was meant to keep secret the identities of the women who had complained about Katsav and testified in court about his sexual advances.
Even though the state attorney consented to allow the media to be present during the portions of the trial that did not mention the victims’ identity, Karra and his fellow judges refused the media’s request, explaining that an accidental slip of the tongue might reveal the victims’ identity, which they wanted to protect at any cost.
“Despite the state’s current position, we don’t adopt its attitude, because the system proposed by the state is impractical and does not ensure full protection of the privacy and identity of the victims,” Karra wrote. “A mistake of distraction or a slip of the tongue by one of the witnesses, the parties or their attorneys could cause severe harm to the victims.”
The full protocol of the trial will not be made public, but the judges decided that they would selectively release large portions of the transcripts, including that of Katsav’s testimony and cross-examination, with the names and any details that may reveal the victims’ identity edited out.