Prosecution, defense make case for Katsav punishment

Court is expected to deliver sentence in two weeks time; defense argues ex-president shouldn't go to prison, is already a "broken vessel."

Moshe Katsav 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Moshe Katsav 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The State Attorney’s Office on Tuesday demanded a lengthy prison term for former president and convicted rapist Moshe Katsav, while the defense argued in favor of a suspended sentence only.
Both sides made their arguments in a four-hour closeddoor sentencing hearing at Tel Aviv District Court. Sentencing was scheduled for March 8, which, coincidentally or not, is International Women’s Day.
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In December, Katsav was convicted of two counts of rape, indecent assault and sexual harassment, all committed against women who were under his employ when he was tourism minister and later president.
According to a protocol summary issued to the press by the Courts Administration after the hearing, the state in its arguments focused on the severity of Katsav’s crimes, offenses which they claimed were all the more severe because of his high status, the fact that he committed the deeds by exploiting his authority over his subordinates, and the repetitive nature of the crimes.
The prosecution described the injury suffered by the victims as a result of the acts, reading mainly from an evaluation conducted of the rape victim, “Aleph,” who worked for Katsav when he was tourism minister.
The state claimed that there were no mitigating factors to consider, since Katsav never expressed regret for his deeds, nor did he attempt to spare the complaining women from having to testify.
The prosecution added that Katsav’s clean criminal record should not be considered since he had committed the offenses repeatedly, as was established in the judges’ December verdict.
They also argued that his fall from grace should not be a mitigating factor because of the principle of equality before the law, because his actions had disgraced the presidency and because he had taken advantage of his elevated position to commit the offenses.
The prosecution agreed that the public denunciations and media campaign against Katsav could somewhat mitigate the sentence, but that it should only carry limited weight.
After surveying the sentence considerations, the state said Katsav should receive a “lengthy prison term,” a suspended sentence, a fine, and to obligate him to pay considerable compensation to his victims.
According to the summary, Katsav’s lawyers chose to highlight the injustice done to Katsav as a result of his being prejudged by both the media and the public. The defense emphasized the demonization, hate and ridicule suffered by Katsav during the last four years, saying it was unprecedented in Israel’s judicial history.
His attorneys argued that media cove rage, intentional leaks and statements made about Katsav by public officials, including the attorney-general, justify a lenient sentence for Katsav, who, they claimed, did not receive a fair trial.
The defense team referred to Katsav as a “living corpse,” branded forever with the mark of Cain on his forehead, with no chance of ever rehabilitating his reputation.
The defense reportedly also complained about the conviction itself, claiming that at worst, Katsav had “stumbled” in committing deeds that took advantage of his authority.
Katsav’s lawyers also attacked the victim report presented by the prosecution, claiming that it contradicted other statements made in the course of the hearings and the trial.
The defense lawyers also presented the court with a summary of Katsav’s 40 years of distinguished public service and good works.
The defense team concluded with a request that the ex-president not be sent to prison.
The former president waived his right to speak directly to the court and both sides decided not to call in witnesses to back up their arguments.
Katsav’s lawyers did, however, submit a letter written by his children as well as two CDs featuring events held in Katsav’s honor during his time as president, in which his public accomplishments were celebrated.
The judges, George Karra, Judith Shevach and Miriam Sokolow, now have two weeks to digest the information.
The judges have a wide range of discretion; while the law currently demands a minimum four-year sentence for rape, Katsav’s crimes were committed before the law came into effect and therefore it does not apply to him.
Unlike most of the trial, which has been conducted behind closed doors, the sentencing will be open to the press.