The verdict in the rape trial of former President Moshe Katzav will be delivered next week behind closed doors, with only select details made public, the Israeli Courts Administration announced yesterday.
Haaretz and other news organizations plan to appeal the decision and ask the Tel Aviv District Court that reporters be allowed in the courtroom for the reading of all or part of the verdict.
Katzav has been accused of raping a former employee under his purview during his term as tourism minister. He is also accused of sexually harassing two female employees at the President's Residence as well as obstruction of justice.
As is often the case in trials involving sex offenses, the proceedings in the Katzav trial were held behind closed doors, and most of the testimonies heard were put under gag order to protect the privacy of the complainants. Verdicts in sexual offense cases, however, are generally read publicly, with special measures taken to safeguard the privacy of the complainants.
The decision by the court to have the verdict read behind closed doors is quite unusual, especially considering that this is a case involving a former president that has generated widespread public interest.
During the trial, the judges had initially said they would permit the retroactive publication of testimonies that did not violate the privacy of the complainants. Eventually, they only released parts of the opening and closing statements made by the different sides, which did not contain much previously unknown information.
One testimony that was released was that of Ran Nezri, the deputy attorney general. Nezri told the court that the state prosecution considered closing the case because of inadequate evidence, although none of the prosecutors had thought that Katzav was wrongly accused.
State prosecutors Ronit Amiel and Nissim Marom accused Katzav of trying to intimidate the complainants for years and viewing them as a cache of sexual objects. The former president's attorneys, Avigdor Feldman, Tzion Amir and Avraham Lavi, retorted that the state prosecutors were demonizing their client.
The Supreme Court rejected an appeal against the decision to hold the trial behind closed doors.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now