'Katzav used his position to commit crime'

Going to jail: Katzav

Going to jail: Katzav

The eighth president of Israel will enter a prison cell on May 8.

Moshe Katzav was sentenced on Tuesday to seven years' imprisonment, and ordered to pay compensation of £15,000 and £4,000 to two women whom he had raped and sexually attacked.

A heavy sentence was expected following the unanimous guilty verdict of the Tel Aviv District Court, presided over by Justice George Karra. The court had found Mr Katzav guilty of two counts of rape, one of indecent assault and one of obstruction of justice. "The accused committed his deeds as Everyman," wrote Justice Karra and his colleague Miryam Sokolov in their majority decision. "He must take his punishment as Everyman. No man is above the law, whatever his position."

Katzav, the judges wrote, "used his exalted position to commit his felonies. That should count further against him, not act in mitigation".

Towards the end of the sentencing, Mr Katzav burst out towards the court, shouting: "You are wrong, you allowed the lies to win." But afterwards left the court without making a statement.

President Shimon Peres, who was touring the Lebanon border with the IDF high command at the time of the sentencing said: "This is a sad day, but the law is above all of us and all are equal before the law." When asked whether Mr Katzav's statue in the President's mansion garden would be removed, Mr Peres said: "I don't believe in rewriting history, with the good and the bad in it."

    Last updated: 12:56pm, March 24 2011