Tel Aviv protest Katsav
A Tel Aviv protest this week against the decision to allow Katsav to stay out of jail pending his appeal. Photo by Nir Keidar
Text size

Former President Moshe Katsav's lawyers yesterday asked to postpone a scheduled Supreme Court hearing due to their family vacations, after the court had already decided to discuss Katsav's case during its summer recess. The former president was convicted in December on two counts of rape against a complainant who worked with him in the Tourism Ministry, and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Katsav was supposed to have begun his sentence on May 8, but was allowed to remain free after the Supreme Court accepted his request to stay out of jail pending the outcome of his appeal.

Three appeal hearings were scheduled for August, due to the court's desire to speed up the verdict. Katsav's lawyers and the prosecution were asked to set aside two other days in August, in case the three hearings will not suffice.

Now Katsav's lawyers have requested putting off the August appeal hearings as well, saying they have family vacations planned for that month and postponing the vacations could cause the lawyers families' emotional distress. The lawyers said Katsav was not behind lock and key, so the hearings were not of the utmost urgency.

In an unusual move, the Supreme Court had already agreed to discuss the former president's appeal during what would have been its summer recess, requesting that both defense counselors and prosecution representatives make themselves available on specific dates.

Court officials estimated the chances the Supreme Court would grant Katsav lawyers' request were slim, in view of the court's consent to put off Katsav's jail sentence until after his appeal.

"There is no reason to postpone the hearing, after the lawyers asked to delay the prison sentence and requested to hold the appeal hearing at the earliest date possible," said retired District Court Judge Shelly Timen.