Former Prime Minister Moshe Katsav appeared out of control as his seven-year sentence for rape and other offenses was read out loud in court yesterday, interrupting Judge Judith Shevach with exclamations like: "You're doing an injustice. The ruling is wrong! You've let a lie win!"
Katsav refused to heed those attempting to hush him and continued with his outburst, shouting: "The girls know that they lied! They know that they lied!"
When he directed his plea to Tel Aviv District Court Judge George Karra, the only male of the three judges on the bench, Karra told him in a quiet voice: "Sir, there is a way to file an appeal."
But Katsav wasn't done, and accused Karra of keeping him from mounting a full defense.
"You didn't let me bring witnesses, sir," he said. "You didn't let me give you exhibits. You didn't let me! You shut me up during the whole trial! Did you let me defend myself? You didn't let me."
Shevach resumed her reading of the sentence and one of Katsav's lawyers, Zion Amir, tried to calm him down. But there was more to come.
When Shevach finished reading the sentence and the court began discussing how long Katsav would have before he has to start serving time, he said the entire court transcript should be published, not a redacted version as the judges had ruled.
"Every month they're going to release one section?" he said to his lawyer. "Let them release all the transcripts at once! Let them remove the names of the girls, but they should release it!"
The court announced several weeks ago that it would release most of the transcript, though not the names of the complainants, after the sentence was handed down. The judges did not agree to a request by journalists to be allowed to examine the investigative material in the case.
After the hearing, Amir told reporters the public outburst was the first time Katsav has spoken out since the trial began.
"Everyone who was there was able to understand that this is the first time Katsav has said anything in the past two and a half years," said Amir. "Here stands a man who wants to bring before the public the investigative material. It's worthwhile that the public sees it."
Avraham Lavie, who also represents Katsav, indicated an appeal was forthcoming.
"This is one of the most one-sided rulings there has ever been in the State of Israel," he said. "Let's hope that the Supreme Court will pay attention."
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