'A Hard Day for Israel, but a Great Day for Israeli Justice'

Witnesses, women's groups say conviction sends clear message to public officials and women who were victimized.

The conviction of former Presidnet Moshe Katsav of two counts of rape and other sexual abuse charges on Thursday was lauded by many as a victory for women's rights in Israel

Katsav 301210 Tal Cohen 3
Tal Cohen

Katsav was convicted of raping and sexually assaulting a former employee from the Tourism Ministry, A. He was also convicted of sexually harassing H. from the President's Residence, of sexually abusing and harassing L. from the President's Residence and of obstructing justice.

Daniel Saror, the lawyer of A. from the Tourism Ministry, said after the verdict reading that he "knew all along that A. was telling the truth."

Saror said that the prosecutors are planning to file a civil suit against Katsav "both for the rape charges and the unrestrained lashing out against the plaintiffs… Katsav will pay for his deeds."

N., a woman who testified in the Katsav trial, said that she had witnessed Katsav mistreatment of dozens of female employees for a span of twenty years.

"This is a hard day for the country, but a great day for the Israeli justice system. We knew how he acted; it was the same with all of us."

Chair of Israeli women's organization Naamat, Talia Livni, said also responded to Katsav's verdict, saying that "the Israeli public can be proud of its justice system… may every public official know that there is no immunity before the law and may every woman know that she has a defender in the court."

The Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO) issued expressed their satisfaction of the verdict.

"[Katsav] must be publicly ostracized and the rights given to him by the state must be revoked. Any enlightened state must deal in such a way with leaders who are sex offenders," the organization said in a statement.