In Reversal, Verdict in Katsav Rape Trial to Be Read Publicly

The main parts of the verdict in the rape trial of former President Moshe Katsav will be read publicly Thursday, even though the trial is being held behind closed doors, the Tel Aviv District Court announced yesterday.

The announcement comes despite last week's decision by the Israel Courts Administration that the verdict would also be delivered in camera.

katsav - Ilan Assayag - December 27 2010
Ilan Assayag

The court, which was responding to a request by Haaretz and other media outlets, said it would decide how much of the ruling to make public after the state gave its opinion on the matter. This has not happened yet because state prosecutors are on strike.

The District Court acceded to the media request for greater openness "to balance between the principle of a public trial and protecting the privacy of the complainants and others," it said.

Sex crime trials are generally held behind closed doors and, as in this case, the testimony is generally banned from publication to protect the complainants.

However, in some high-profile cases, the verdicts and sentences have been made public.

The findings that are made public will not reveal the complainants' identities, the court said.

Katsav stands accused of two counts of rape, indecent behavior and sexual harassment. He is also accused of harassing a witness and obstructing justice.

Several women have filed complaints against the former president, all of whom used to work with him. They have been identified in the press only as A. from the Tourism Ministry, and H. and L. from the President's Residence.

Last week the Israel Courts Administration announced that after the verdict was delivered behind closed doors, journalists would receive a redacted version of the ruling for publication.