Moshe Katsav
Moshe Katsav on his way to a court appearance. Photo by Ilan Assayag
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Former President Moshe Katsav is basing the planned appeal of his rape conviction partly on the argument that his relationship with the complainant he was convicted of raping was consensual, according to a redacted version of his appeal, which was released for publication this week.

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.

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 will be 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."

They said they were not necessarily implying that the relationship was sexual, adding that they were referring to "a closeness containing affection, enthrallment and perhaps even feelings of love," which they said would greatly detract from the claim of rape.