Katsav Tel Aviv 22.3.11 Reuters
Former President Moshe Katsav leaves Tel Aviv District Court on March 22, 2011, after he was sentenced to seven years in jail for rape. Photo by Reuters
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The Supreme Court convened Wednesday morning to hear former President Moshe Katsav's appeal of his rape conviction, who is claiming that the sexual relations with the complainant were consensual.

Katsav 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.
He was supposed to begin his sentence Sunday, but was allowed to remain free at least until today, when the Supreme Court will hear his request to stay out of jail pending the outcome of his appeal.

Katsav's attorney Avigdor Feldman said at the start of the hearing that there was no concern that his client would evade justice if his prison term was delayed, and added that he did not pose a threat to society.

Feldman also said that the court should take into account special circumstances, such as the fact that Katsaz is a former president, adding that the court should avoid the possible occurance in which Katsav will enter the prison as a former president, and will be equated of the charges shortly after.

The state is expected to tell the court that it opposes granting Katsav's request, in compliance with a Supreme Court ruling from a decade ago spelling out the circumstances under which a prison sentence may be delayed for the duration of the appeal process.

The request is being heard by Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger, the same judge who released Katsav's appeal for publication.

"In our opinion," Katsav's defense team wrote in the appeal, "the evidence in this case could provide a strong foundation for the possibility of a romantic relationship between the appellant and the complainant."

The Tel Aviv District Court dismissed the argument during the trial, saying defense attorneys Avigdor Feldman, Zion Amir and Avi Lavie submitted it only in their closing arguments.

In another part of the appeal, which was hundreds of pages long, Katsav's lawyers write that the body of evidence supports the presumption that "A. does not tell the truth of each and every detail of her remarks, there was no rape, and if there was intimacy beyond work relations then it was consensual or, in the worse case, the consensus was rooted in the exploitation of a position of authority."

The defense team argues that in the course of A.'s questioning by police, the possibility of a consensual romantic relationship was raised, "peeking out from the evidence stubbornly and frequently."