Convict Ex-president Katsav Insists Rape Was a 'Misunderstanding' at Parole Hearing

Prosecution convinced ex-president still doesn’t grasp the gravity of his misdeeds, as defense lawyer assails complainants.

Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav outside of prison, 2012.
Moti Milrod

Former President Moshe Katsav deemed two counts of rape a mere “misunderstanding” during a parole hearing on Sunday, while his lawyer viciously assailed the complainants, sources in the prosecution said on Tuesday.

Consequently, they said, the hearing strengthened the prosecution’s view that Katsav doesn’t understand the gravity of what he did, and therefore doesn’t deserve parole.

Katsav is serving a seven-year sentence for rape and sexual assault. He asked the parole board to reduce his sentence by one-third on the grounds of good behavior.

The sources said Katsav referred to the complaints against him as stemming from “a misunderstanding on the women’s part.” He said he had a relationship with both women, and because they were young and inexperienced, they didn’t understand the nature of a relationship and misinterpreted his acts. He also said he was willing to apologize, but for a misunderstanding, not for rape.

His attorney, Zion Amir, assailed the principal complainant, the sources added. Inter alia, he said she was currently married with children, and therefore clearly hadn’t suffered by his client’s acts, so Katsav’s continued imprisonment served nothing but vengeance. He also accused her of intentionally humiliating Katsav in her statements to the media and, like his client, claimed the two counts of rape amounted to a misinterpreted hug.
Amir accused the second complainant, Odelia Carmon, of obsessively pursuing his client over the course of 10 years.

Finally, he accused four female MKs who spoke out against paroling Katsav – Zehava Galon, Shelly Yacimovich, Merav Michaeli and Michal Rozin – of threatening anyone who doesn’t think like them.

The sources said there seemed to be a clear division of labor at the hearing, with Katsav talking about his own suffering and Amir besmirching the complainants. They also pointed out that, contrary to Katsav’s claim that the complainants were young women who didn’t understand what was happening, both were in their late thirties when the assaults occurred.