Katsav 'Spent Up to NIS 3M on Legal Fees'

In addition to the personal resources that Katsav and his relatives devote to his court battle, a pro-Katsav website encourages sympathetic Internet users to donate to the ex-president's legal fund, ' True Justice Will Be Done'.

Former president Moshe Katsav, who was sentenced to seven years in prison after being convicted of rape and sexual harassment in December, spent between NIS 2 million and NIS 3 million in legal fees since the sexual assault allegations first surfaced, according to close associates of the disgraced politician.

Katsav, who has been represented by some of Israel's most accomplished and highly paid attorneys, likely will need to dip further into his pocket as his lawyers prepare to appeal his conviction before the Supreme Court.

The former president has devoted significant resources to efforts gathering evidence that would disprove allegations against him. Katsav also has been helped by his relatives and immediate family, who have withdrawn funds from savings accounts to aid his legal fight.

A pro-Katsav website that encourages sympathetic Internet users to donate to the ex-president's legal fund was still in operation as of press time.

Aides to the former president recently expressed disappointment over what they perceive as inadequate fundraising efforts by Katsav's family and friends since news of alleged criminal wrongdoing first broke.

In 2007, Katsav supporters founded an organization called "True Justice Will Be Done," whose goal was to raise money from Israel and abroad for the former president's legal defense, as well as for public relations efforts aimed at improving his image.

Soon afterwards, an Internet site called "The Truth about the Moshe Katsav Affair" was launched. It sought to bolster Katsav's public standing and cast doubt on the credibility of the women who leveled charges against him.

"We managed to raise a few hundred thousand dollars," said a person close to Katsav. "This wasn't enough to cover the expenses."