Judges Criticize Katsav Defense Ahead of Ruling on Conviction Appeal

Justice Joubran was very interested in a claim made by the defense, which the Tel Aviv District Court rejected in the original trial.

Justices Edna Arbel, Salim Joubran and Miriam Naor raised many questions and doubts and sometimes expressed bafflement in response to claims made by the defense during the three days in August in which they heard the appeal of Moshe Katsav. On Thursday, the Supreme Court judges will issue their ruling on the appeal of the former president, who was convicted of rape and other sex crimes, and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Justice Joubran was very interested in a claim made by the defense, which the Tel Aviv District Court rejected in the original trial.

Edna Arbel - Tomer Appelbaum - 10112011
Tomer Appelbaum
Salim Joubran - Tomer Appelbaum - 10112011
Tomer Appelbaum

Katsav's lawyers claimed that the lower court should have examined the evidence and determined what the relationship was between Katsav and A., the complainant who worked for him at the Tourism Ministry. Katsav was convicted of raping A. on two separate occasions.

Katsav's lawyers argued that it was possible that there were no sexual relations between Katsav and A., or it was possible that the two had had an intimate relationship that did not culminate in full sexual relations, or that there was a sexual relationship but that it was not completely consensual, as Katsav was in a position of authority over A. But these possibilities contradict Katsav's statements to the police and during the trial, in which he continued to claim that there had been no intimate relationship with A.

Joubran challenged Katsav's attorneys over their demand that the court determine the nature of the relationship. "In order for the court to rule on the many possibilities that you quote, would it not be necessary for the appellant to claim them in an explicit manner, otherwise the matter is difficult to relate to," said Joubran to Avigdor Feldman, one of Katsav's lawyers.

"You could have solved that [problem] if the appellant had given his version," said Joubran on another occasion.

The judges also said it was possible that the small inaccuracies in the complainant's version were the result of the long time that had passed since the trauma. "It is impossible to expect the complainant to keep a diary and write down exactly what happened after a number of years," said Joubran.

"Do you expect the complainant to write down every hug and all the details related to it?" asked one of the judges.

The defense also presented a thick folder of press clippings on the trial to bolster its argument that the media had already judged Katsav before and during his trial, and influenced the District Court judges.

In response, Naor asked whether the defense disagreed that the press is allowed to cover the trial.