Judgment Day for Katsav as Ex-president Faces Verdict in Rape Case

Charges of sex abuse relate to period during which Katsav served as Israel's tourism minister and president.

Former President Moshe Katsav will come to the Tel Aviv District Court Thursday morning to hear the verdict in his trial on two counts of rape and other sex abuse charges. The verdict will be handed down more than four years after complaints surfaced of severe sexual offenses against his employees. The allegations relate to his terms as tourism minister and as president of the country.

Katsav has been charged with two counts of rape and sexual abuse of A. from the Tourism Ministry; of sexual harassment with the alleged victim being H. from the President's Residence; and of sexual abuse and harassment of L. from the President's Residence; and of harassing a witness and obstructing justice.

katsav - Rafael Ben Ari / Israel Hayom - December 30 2010
Rafael Ben Ari / Israel Hayom

After nearly a year-long trial that took place almost entirely behind closed doors, the public will finally learn whether Katsav took a wise risk when he withdrew from a highly lenient plea bargain two years ago. The plea bargain did not include the most serious charges and promised Katsav a suspended sentence at worse, but the former president decided he wanted to prove his complete innocence in court.

He will come to court this morning with his attorneys, Avigdor Feldman, Zion Amir and Avraham Lavie, and his family.

The verdict set to be read out by a panel of three judges will be the first judicial statement on the veracity of allegations repeated, dissected and mulled over by Israeli media over four years. After an initial attempt to have the reading of the verdict closed to the media, its main substance will be read in open court, but how much of the verdict will be released for publication will be decided only after the state submits its position on the matter.