Supreme Court denies appeal hearing for Katsav

Justice Esther Hayut says former president's defense team had "left no stone unturned" in search for rape case appeal.

Moshe Katsav walking into court 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post))
Moshe Katsav walking into court 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post))
The Supreme Court ruled on Sunday that former president Moshe Katsav will not be allowed a further appeal hearing in his rape trial.
The former president is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence after being unanimously convicted in the Tel Aviv District Court in 2010 of two counts of rape, two counts of sexual harassment, an indecent act using force and obstruction of justice.
Supreme Court Justice Esther Hayut wrote in her ruling that Katsav’s defense team had “left no stone unturned” in their request for an additional appeal hearing, but said the arguments raised did not justify further discussion on the court’s ruling.
In November 2011, after the Supreme Court rejected Katsav’s appeal against his conviction and sentence, his defense team petitioned the court for extra time to file a request for a further appeal hearing.
The former president’s attorneys said grounds for further discussion included legal difficulties with the conviction, including the standard of evidence in a testimony-based conviction in which the decisive factor had been something other than physical evidence or witness corroboration.
Katsav’s defense team also argued that the main complainant in the case, “Aleph” from the Tourism Ministry, had given fallacious testimony, and that the former president had suffered a “trial by media.”
In February, Katsav’s lawyers also asked to file two pieces of additional evidence – a video recording and a photograph, both taken at a Ramat Gan event for Persian Jews – that they said proved the former president was telling the truth regarding his whereabouts at the time Aleph claims he raped her for the first time.
However, in rejecting Katsav’s petition for an additional hearing, Hayut said that the court only takes such steps in “rare and unusual cases,” in order to avoid creating additional legal proceedings where the law did not permit it.
The fact that a panel of justices had already ruled unanimously to uphold the former president’s conviction, Hayut said, “supports the rejection of this petition.”
Regarding the issue of the testimony-based conviction, Hayut said that there had been nothing novel in the court’s ruling on the Katsav case.
Hayut said that Katsav had not brought any new claims when he alleged in his petition that the main complainant in the case, Aleph from the Tourism Ministry, had given fallacious testimony. The former president’s arguments, Hayut said, were in fact regarding the complainant’s credibility, which the district court had already determined.
The same was true of Katsav’s claims regarding his alibi at the time of the first rape, Hayut said.
Concerning Katsav’s arguments that he had suffered a “trial by media,” Hayut said that a “hostile public atmosphere” towards the defendant, and even a “judgement” made by the media while his trial is ongoing does not mean that a fair trial was not possible.
The trial, Hayut said, was conducted and ruled on by a panel of professional judges.
Regarding the two pieces of additional evidence proposed by Katsav’s defense team, Hayut said such a request would anyway be suitable only where the defense proposed a retrial, and could not be brought into any additional appeal hearing.
Katsav is serving his prison sentence in the Torah Division of the Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle.