Katsav Arrives at Court for Arguments in Sentencing Portion of Rape Conviction

State is expected to ask for significant jail time for the former president, who was convicted on two counts of rape, indecent assault and sexual harassment involving women who worked for him.

Former President Moshe Katsav arrived at the Tel Aviv District court on Tuesday for the sentencing portion of his trial, where state prosecutors are expected to ask for substantial jail time.

Katsav was convicted on two counts of rape and indecent assault and sexual harassment involving women who worked for him. He was also convicted of obstruction of justice.

Former President Moshe Katsav - Tal Cohen
Tal Cohen

The former president arrived at court accompanied by his son and brother, after they held morning prayers with friends at his house in Kiryat Malakhi.

The state is expected to ask for significant jail time, without being precise.

The law permits a sentence of 16 years in prison for rape, but based on precedent and comments by legal observers, there is a reasonable chance Katsav will receive less than this. One observer, attorney Ariel Atari, said the sentence would probably be a "single digit" number of years.

Katsav's defense team is not expected to present character witnesses, but it is thought his lawyers will ask for leniency in light of the case's massive media coverage and the suffering they say the former president has undergone.

One of Katsav's lawyers, Avraham Lavie, said the defense team did not plan to produce character witnesses, but if it did, it would be a member of the former president's family. Katsav himself does not plan to address the judges.

The defense is expected to argue that leniency is required in the sentencing in the interest of justice. Earlier in the case, Katsav's lawyers made a similar argument that the indictment should be dropped in the interest of justice. The court rejected the contention, but left open the possibility that this argument would be considered during sentencing due to the anguish caused to Katsav by the media.

"We are not ignoring the mental anguish the accused suffered as a result of the relentless flood of harsh reporting against him in the media, declaring him a sex offender before the trial," the judges, George Karra, Miriam Sokolov and Judith Shevach, wrote in their guilty verdict. "We don't exclude the possibility of the matter being raised again later on."