AJC: Katsav Verdict Demonstrates Strength of Rule of Law in Israel

Dec 30, 2010, 12:15 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK, Dec. 30, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC commended Israel's justice system, which today handed down a decision in a Tel Aviv court convicting the country's former President, Moshe Katsav, on charges of rape and sexual harassment.

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"This is a traumatic day for Israelis," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "Yet this unambiguous verdict means we are confident that Israel will emerge from the Katsav trial with renewed faith in both its robust democracy and independent judiciary."

Katsav was found guilty of raping an employee of the Tourism Ministry, where he served as Minister in the 1990s, and of later sexual offences while he was president. He resigned the Presidency in 2007 while insisting that he was innocent of the charges. In addition to being convicted for sexual offenses, the court found Katsav guilty of obstructing justice.

"The court's decision to find former President Katsav guilty provides a lesson for every other democratic state in two key respects," said Harris. "First, Israel has demonstrated that no one, not even a president, is above the law or entitled to expect special favors from those who enforce the law. Second, that women have an inalienable right to control their bodies. As Judge George Kara noted, once Katsav's victim refused sexual intercourse, and Katsav continued regardless, this became rape."

SOURCE American Jewish Committee