Ex-Israeli president guilty of rape
JERUSALEM (AP) – Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav was convicted of rape Thursday, a dramatic fall from grace for a man who rose from humble beginnings to become a symbol of achievement for Jews of Middle Eastern origin.
The disgraced politician, who had rejected a plea bargain that would have kept him out of jail, will likely be sentenced to four to 16 years in prison. The verdict was seen as a victory for the Israeli legal system and for women’s rights in a decades-long struggle to chip away at the nation’s macho culture, which once permitted political and military leaders great liberties.
“The court sent two clear and sharp messages: that everyone is equal and every woman has the full right to her body,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. But he added that it was “a sad day for Israel and its citizens.”
The Tel Aviv District Court found Katsav, 65, guilty of two counts of raping an employee in 1998, when he was Israel’s tourism minister. It also convicted him of lesser counts of indecent acts; sexual harassment involving two other women who worked for him when he was president, from 2000 to 2007; and obstruction of justice.
Katsav denied all allegations, claiming he was a victim of a political witch hunt.