The principal complainant in the rape conviction against former President Moshe Katsav, the woman known only as A. from the Tourism Ministry, said yesterday that Katsav's punishment fit his crimes.
"Although this is not at all a happy day for me, there is definitely a feeling of satisfaction over the sentence," she said.
A. also said she had never sought revenge and that the severity of the punishment was not of paramount importance to her.
"The main thing from my perspective is the verdict, that the court - unanimously - believed me and gave me justice, even though it was delayed justice," she said. "The court gave me back my dignity."
A., whom the court also ordered Katsav to pay NIS 100,000 in damages, said she would be happy to return to her normal life. Sources close to the victim said she was in no hurry to file a civil suit against Katsav - as the woman known as A. from the President's Residence, whose complaint was not included in the criminal action against Katsav, said she intended to do.
Associates of A. from the Tourism Ministry said she needed to look into the legal feasibility of filing the civil suit and how the statute of limitations affected it.
A friend of A., Dror Nisan, who was with her and her lawyer, Daniel Sror, when the sentence was handed down yesterday, told Haaretz that in contrast to the announcement of the verdict - when they were very tense and finally wept when the tension was released - "we were much calmer today. It was clear to us somehow that there would be a prison term, because it had to suit the verdict."
Nisan said A. was relieved "especially because of the realization that, although there has been talk of an appeal, and it could drag on and the sentence could be postponed, things are at least coming to an end."
The complainants L. and H. who were part of the indictment, as well as a complainant from the Transportation Ministry on whose complaint the statute of limitations applied, declined to speak with the media yesterday, although in the past they had done so.
The first complainant who went public, A. from the President's Residence, said: "The seven years to which Katsav was sentenced today will not bring back the seven years I lost dealing with the irreparable damage, which also impacts my future."
"The insults and suffering I endured from him, his associates, his family and his lawyer can't be countered by even the most perfect punishment," she added.
But A. from the President's Residence also said the personal price she paid "is dwarfed by the message the court sent out today to all of society: even citizen number one is not above the law."
Women's organizations yesterday welcomed Katsav's sentence, saying it conveyed an important message both to victims of sexual violence and their attackers. The sentence "sent a clear message of belief in the victims and the justice system, and of zero-tolerance to the perpetrators of sexual violence," said Michal Rosen, executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel.
Nurit Tsur, executive director of the Israel Women's Network, said yesterday: "The sentence is appropriate and is a victory for all of Israeli society - both men and women. The court determined that there is no place for rape and sexual harassment in Israeli society, even when it concerns people in power."
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