Moshe Katsav - Alon Ron - 22.3.2011
Ex-president Moshe Katsav in Tel Aviv after his sentencing, March 22, 2011. Photo by Alon Ron
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Supreme Court Chief Justice Dorit Beinish rejected on Monday Former President Moshe Katsav's request to broaden the panel of justices set to hear the appeal of his rape conviction.

The former president was convicted in December of two counts of rape against the complainant publicly identified as A. from the Tourism Ministry, and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

In her decision, Beinish wrote that the legal claims raised by Katsav's lawyers in the appeal are not fundamental questions that would require a changing of the panel of judges.

The three justices set to hear the former president's appeal are Edna Arbel, Miriam Naor and Salim Joubran, all of whom specialize in criminal law.

Arbel and Naor are both considered stringent justices in general, while Joubran is seen as particularly hard on rapists.

Beinish wrote that even though Katsav is a former president, this alone does not justify expanding the panel. She noted that this is only done in special cases which raise important legal questions. The identity of the petitioner does not raise fundamental legal questions, Beinish wrote.

Earlier on Monday, the Supreme Court rejected Katsav's request to postpone the scheduled appeal of his rape sentence due to his lawyers' planned family vacations.

He was supposed to have begun his sentence on the eighth of May, but was allowed to remain free after the Supreme Court accepted his request to stay out of jail pending the outcome of his appeal.

In an unusual move, the court had decided to discuss Katsav's case during its summer recess. However, Katsav's lawyers requested that the appeal hearing scheduled for August of this year would be postponed as well, as a result of a planned family holiday, saying that postponing the vacation could cause the lawyers emotional distress.

Supreme Court Registrar Dana Cohen-Lekach decided Monday to reject Katsav's request, explaining that even though the court understands the lawyers' wish for a vacation, the court must hear the appeal within a relatively short time frame which necessitates several full days of discussion.