Katsav
Former President Moshe Katsav outside his home. Photo by Ilan Assayag
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A lawyer appealing former President Moshe Katsav's rape conviction suggested in court Sunday that his client might have lied when he denied having sex with his accuser, A from the Tourism Ministry.

At the opening session of the appeal, attorney Avigdor Feldman told Israel's Supreme Court that there was "a reasonable chance" Katsav and the woman had consensual sex, which would make their encounter an abuse of authority at most.

Katsav has denied having any sexual relations with the plaintiff, A.

Justice Salim Joubran, one of three Supreme Court judges hearing the case, asked why Katsav had not previously claimed to have had an affair with his accuser. Feldman did not respond directly to the question, saying “the alternate version does not have to come from the mouth of the defendant.”

Feldman discussed the alleged rape of A in a Jerusalem hotel, saying there were contradictions in her testimony. “It doesn’t make sense, it isn’t logical,” Katsav’s lawyer said, referring to A’s discrepancies in the different accounts she has given over the course of the trial.

Joubran called the lawyer’s claims against A unreasonable, saying “it is impossible to expect that the complainant keep a diary recording everything the defendant did to her, especially after so many years.”

The lawyer claimed that the chain of events paint a picture of consensual relations between the two, however, the judge was skeptical, asking Feldman why Katsav saved the Rosh Hashana card A wrote him after the rape.

“Because he kept notes and trivial papers,” the lawyer replied, “one keeps a love letter.”
Justices Miriam Naor, Edna Arbel and Salim Joubran will hear further testimony from both sides on Wednesday and Thursday this week, and possibly next week as well.

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, the country'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.