Katzav - Alon Ron
Moshe Katsav Photo by Alon Ron
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Former president Moshe Katzav appeared at the Supreme Court on Wednesday as the appeals process of his rape conviction continued.

Discussion in court on Wednesday dealt with the defense team's claim that Katsav was convicted by the public before legal proceedings against him began.

Katsav lawyer Tzion Amir argued that Katsav was judged by the public, particularly the media, and arrived at his trial already convicted.

"We live in an era of embracing and hugging," Amir said. "The image of Katsav was blackened and distorted. Every innocent hug became a crime. The court made a mistake."

Arguments in the appeals case began on Tuesday. The judges will hear from both sides again on Thursday and possibly also next week.

Katsav was convicted in December of raping an employee when he was a cabinet minister in 1998 and of sexual offenses involving two other women when he was president from 2000 to 2007.

He was sentenced in March to seven years in jail, Israel's highest ranking official ever ordered to prison.

In May, a Supreme Court judge allowed him to stay out of jail while appealing his conviction and sentence.

Katsav, 65, who denies any wrongdoing, claims he is a victim of a political witch hunt.