katsav - Tal Cohen - January 6 2011
Moshe Katsav was found guilty of rape. Photo by Tal Cohen
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Former President Moshe Katsav will be sentenced only on March 22, and not on March 8 as originally planned, the Tel Aviv District Court announced yesterday.

The court offered no reason for the delay. The sentencing had originally been scheduled to coincide with International Women's Day.

The court heard both sides' sentencing pleas last week. Prosecutors sought a substantial prison term for Katsav, who was convicted of raping one woman and sexually harassing two others. They also asked that he be fined and pay hefty compensation to his victims.

Prosecutors backed these demands with a psychological evaluation of the rape victim, A., which described the great harm she had endured. A. had worked under Katsav when he was tourism minister.

Katsav's attorneys asked the court not to sentence their client to jail time. Katsav waived his right to speak during the hearing, which convicts often use to express remorse. Instead, his attorneys submitted a letter written by his children, as well as press clippings and videos documenting various events during his term as president at which speakers lauded his long career in public service.

In December, Katsav was convicted of two counts of rape and one of indecent assault against A., of sexually harassing H. and L., who both worked under him at the President's Residence, and of obstructing justice. The judges noted that the case's massive media coverage might be grounds for leniency. At last week's hearing, prosecutors concurred that this justified some degree of leniency.

But they disputed the claim by Katsav's attorneys that his suffering in having fallen from such a lofty height also justified leniency. The principle of equality before the law, the fact that he exploited his lofty position to commit his crimes, and the disgrace he caused the presidency argued against this, they said.