Ex-president Katzav begins prison sentence

By Jennifer Lipman, December 7, 2011
Moshe Katzav

Moshe Katzav

The former president of Israel has entered prison to begin his seven year sentence for rape.

Moshe Katzav, who left office in 2007 in disgrace in the wake of an indictment against him, is the highest-ranking Israeli official to serve time in prison. The eight h person to serve as Israeli president, he served in the Knesset and held a number of cabinet positions during his political career.

The 66-year-old was convicted of two counts of rape, one of an obscene act, one of sexual harassment and of attempting to subvert the course of justice nearly a year ago, but appeals delayed his entry to prison.

The still-defiant politician told reporters that Israel was effectively "executing" an innocent man "on the basis of impressions, without real - time testimony, without evidence".

He added: "One day, consciences will prick and you will see that you buried a man alive."

Katzav is to serve his sentence at Israel's Maasiyahu jail and is expected to share a cell with onetime Shas cabinet minister Shlomo Benizri, who was convicted of accepting bribes in 2008.

One of the witnesses whose testimony helped secure Katzav's conviction told the JC last year that she kept her experiences a secret for a long time.

"I was really afraid of him and what he could do," she said, adding that she came forward because: "I wanted the truth and my justice to become known."

Last updated: 10:23am, December 7 2011