Court Rejects Katsav Request to Relocate Site of Upcoming Trial

Attorneys asked Tel Aviv court to close proceedings to the public, and to the delay the trial.

Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch rejected former president Moshe Katsav's request Wednesday to relocate his trial from the Tel Aviv District Court to its equivalent in Jerusalem or Be'er Sheva.

Beinisch criticized the filing of the request, just 24 hours before the opening of the trial, but said that she did not see any reason to comply regardless.

The former president had requested an out-of-the-ordinary change of venue to the Be'er Sheva District Court, on the grounds that it would be closer to his residence in Kiryat Malachi.

Additionally, Katsav argued that the Jerusalem venue would be closer to many of the witnesses expected to appear during the trial, as many of them reside in the city's vicinity.

Beinisch wrote: "In his request, the defendant claims it would be more comfortable to him if the trial would be held in the Be'er Sheva District Court, to which his residence is legally associated."

"However, the distance between Kiryat Malachi and Tel Aviv is less than the distance between Kiryat Malachi and Be'er Sheva," the Supreme Court president added.

"In addition, an examination of the indictment shows that it is would be in the comfort of many witnesses to hold the trial in Tel Aviv and the central area."

Also on Wednesday, prosecutors trying former President Moshe Katsav for rape asked the Tel Aviv District Court to close the proceedings to the public and press.

The prosecution asked that the trial be conducted behind closed doors, with the exception of the hearing on Katsav's response to the indictment.

Attorneys Ronit Amiel and Nissim Marom asked the court to implement the law that states that hearings on sexual offenses take place behind closed doors.

Tel Aviv District Court last week rejected the former president's request to delay the opening of his rape trial.

The trial, which will be convened before Judges George Kara, Miriam Sokolov, and Yehudit Shevah, is scheduled to commence Thursday. Katsav is accused of raping a former employee under his purview during his term as tourism minister. He is also accused of sexually harassing two female employees at the President's Residence as well as obstruction of justice.

The ex-president's attorneys sought to delay the trial, claiming that they did not receive all the evidence collected in the case.