Former Israeli Presidenthas been sentenced to seven years in prison for rape and other sexual assault offenses. After hearing the sentence, he broke down in tears shouting at the judges: "You made a mistake. It is a lie. The girls know it is a lie", the Associated Press reported.
Katsav, who resigned from presidency in 2007, is the highest-ranking Israeli official ever handed a prison term. He was convicted at an earlier hearing of raping an employee in thewhen he was tourism minister, and of later sexual offences while he was president. While the rape victim, known as “Aleph”, claimed he attacked her on two occasions, in the ministry office and in a hotel in Jerusalem, Katsav said her accusations were a revenge for being fired.
He is also convicted of sexually harassing another employee who worked at the presidential residence.
Katsav’s trial provoked great interest in both Israeli and international public. As the Israeli political scene has lately been shaken by serious scandals, his sentence was welcomed as a proof that “no one is above the law”.
Prime Ministercalled the sentencing "an important day for justice in Israel", The Jerusalem Post reported.
Meanwhile, State Prosecutor Moshe Lador reminded Katsav’s sentence might not be the final result. "I understand that an appeal will be filed and we live in a world in which we must wait for the results of the appeal," he explained.
According to the court’s decision, Katsav is to start prison sentence on May 8, which leaves him enough time to appeal. In the meantime, he is to pay fines of about $25,000 and $7,000 to two of his victims.