Three Justices Noted for Hard Lines to Hear Katsav's Appeal

Judges who have heard petitions from Katsav in the past will be excluded from panel, leaving Edna Arbel, Miriam Naor and Salim Joubran.

Former President Moshe Katsav's appeal to the Supreme Court will be heard by three justices who specialize in criminal law: Edna Arbel, Miriam Naor and Salim Joubran. Katsav was convicted earlier this year of rape and other sexual offenses and sentenced to seven years in prison.

The panel was announced yesterday, after Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch ruled that the justices who heard petitions in 2008 against Katsav's original plea bargain (which was later canceled ) - including herself, Eliezer Rivlin, Asher Grunis and Edmond Levy - would be excluded from the panel, as would Yoram Danziger, who heard Katsav's request to postpone the beginning of his sentence.

Ilan Assayag

Though there was no formal reason to prevent these justices from hearing Katsav's appeal, Beinisch decided it was better for justices who had previously voiced an opinion on the case and its evidence not to be part of the panel. Another justice, Elyakim Rubinstein, asked to be recused from the panel due to his prior acquaintance with Katsav in various offices Rubinstein held before joining the Supreme Court, including that of attorney general.

Beinisch then chose the most senior of the remaining justices.

Arbel and Naor are both considered stringent justices in general, while Joubran is seen as particularly hard on rapists.

Arbel has dissented in many sex-crime cases, including the ruling that Haim Ramon's conviction for forcibly kissing a female soldier did not disqualify him from serving as a cabinet minister. She wrote in that dissent that public leaders are the standard-bearers who walk before the host and are thus expected to serve as examples to the public.

Naor is seen by criminal attorneys as more inclined to convict than to acquit, and to reject appeals than to accept them. But she is also responsible for a landmark ruling granting a convicted sex offender a retrial.

Katsav's attorneys would not comment on the panel yesterday.