Attorneys representing the state at yesterday’s sentencing hearing for former President Moshe Katsav demanded that he receive a lengthy prison sentence after being convicted of rape and other sexual offenses. The hearing was held at the Tel Aviv District Court.
The prosecutors also asked the court to impose punitive fines, significant monetary compensation for the victims and a suspended sentence in addition to the custodial sentence.
In addition, they requested that Katsav’s crimes be defined as involving moral turpitude, which carries with it certain restrictions on the convict’s future behavior.
Katsav’s sentence will be read on March 8.
While prosecutors yesterday argued for a harsh sentence, in light of “the disgrace [Katsav] brought on the institution of the presidency,” the former president’s defense team asked for leniency.
His lawyers appealed to the court to refrain from imposing prison time and claimed that their client was a “living dead” man, shattered, bruised, disgraced and beaten.
In December, Katsav was convicted of two counts of rape and one count of sexual assault against the complainant known as A., who worked at the Tourism Ministry when Katsav was tourism minister. He was also convicted of sexually harassing the complainant known as H., a former President’s Residence employee. In addition, he was convicted of sexually abusing and harassing L., also from the President’s Residence, as well as obstruction of justice in connection to that investigation.
The sentencing hearing was held on camera. At the end of the session the court released a summary of the proceedings.
Katsav, who was accompanied by members of his family − but not his wife, Gila − did not speak to reporters.
While both sides waived their right to call witnesses yesterday, the prosecution did submit a victim review for A., detailing her condition as a result of Katsav’s sexual assaults against her.
Katsav’s attorneys, Avigdor Feldman, Zion Amir and Avraham Lavie, submitted a letter written by Katsav’s children, two compact discs showing events held in his honor during his presidency and honoring his public activities, and press clippings.
Prosecutors Ronit Amiel and Nissim Merom focused on Katsav’s crimes in light of his exploitation of his lofty office, his position as the victims’ boss, the age difference between the former president and his victims, and the large number of offenses.
They argued that no leniency should be shown, because Katsav had never admitted to committing the crimes of which he was convicted and did not save the complainants from the ordeal of testifying in court.
They further argued that the judges should not consider his clean criminal record prior to the current convictions since he had committed similar acts in the past, against other women, for which the statute of limitations had expired.
The defense team stressed the “trial by media” aspect of the case, which it said led the public to prejudge their client. They focused on the “demonization” of Katsav in the eyes of the public and argued that their client suffered years of unprecedented hatred and humiliation.
In their December verdict, the presiding judges severely criticized the media, adding that while the biased coverage would not change the verdict it could help to mitigate the sentence.
“We do not ignore the mental anguish the defendant suffered as a result of the infinite flux of harsh publications released against him through the media and which had declared him a sex offender prior to his trial,” judges George Kara, Miriam Sokolov and Yehudit Shevah wrote in their verdict.
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