Ramon vows to appeal indecent behavior conviction
3-judge panel delivers unanimous guilty verdict; Ramon says will appeal, could face three years in jail for kissing complainant against her will.
Former justice minister Haim Ramon vowed to appeal his conviction for indecent behavior at Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on Wednesday afternoon, for having kissed a young woman soldier against her will.
Ramon did not respond when the unequivocal ruling was read aloud at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court, saying he needed to study the verdict and rushing out of the courtroom. "But even now, quite a few questions have already arisen," he said.
The court is due to hear sentencing arguments on February 21, after which it will hand down Ramon's sentence.
The three judges - Hayuta Kochan, Daniella Shirizli and Daniel Be'eri - unanimously rejected Ramon's version of the kiss, which he said was consensual, as neither credible nor logical. They said the kiss included all the elements of a sexual offense.
"We are not dealing with a gray area or a confusing area, but with an intrusive, damaging and humiliating act," the verdict stated. "After examining all the evidence, we found that the complainant's account is the absolute truth. On the other hand, we found that Ramon did not stick to the truth ... [He] exaggerated the part played by the complainant and distorted the facts in a devious and crafty way."
The 73-page verdict repeatedly highlights what the judges found to be the credibility, consistency and authenticity of the testimony of the complainant, identified only as H. It also characterizes Ramon as having tried to inflate H.'s role in the kiss while reducing his own.
Throughout the trial, Ramon argued that he could not have known that the kiss was against H.'s will because she was flirting with him. She also did not act like she was traumatized after the kiss, posing for a picture with him and giving him her telephone number at her own initiative, he said.
Ramon has said he did not insert or try to insert his tongue into the complainant's mouth, as the indictment alleges, but did not deny the possibility that his "tongue touched her lips."
But the judges found Ramon to be claiming a "false innocence."
"The mouth of the accused did not open on its own, but only if he wanted it to do so," they wrote. "A person's tongue does not have a life of its own and it does not leave his mouth without him intending so. The use of the tongue during the kiss is a conscious action."
The judges also determined that the conversation preceding the kiss was not at all flirtatious. "We fully adopt the version of the complainant," they wrote, that the conversation had "no hint, on her part, of a romantic connection with the accused."
"We found it difficult to understand how and why a mature and intelligent person could interpret a hallway conversation of a minute and a half or two minutes with a young female soldier, 20-years-old, about 'what do you think about coming with me to Costa Rica' as a flirtatious conversation with sexual overtones leading to a romantic connection," the judges wrote.
In addition, several witnesses testified that H. was upset after the kiss took place.
Another target of the judges' criticism was the witnesses for the defense, who they said were largely brought in to discredit H. and testify about her "flirtatious" nature.
Cabinet Secretary Israel Maimon, for instance, testified that he too had a flirtatious conversation with H. Maimon stood by his testimony Wednesday."My testimony in court is completely true," he said. "With all due respect to the court, the interpretation of my testimony in the verdict is more than surprising to me."