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Middle East
Israel court backs Katsav plea deal
Supreme court upholds plea bargain that sees former president escape rape charges.
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2008 09:07 GMT
Katsav, left, will admit to sexually harrassing a woman in his employment [AFP]
Israel's supreme court has upheld a plea bargain under which Moshe Katsav, the country's former president, will avoid being prosecuted for rape and a possible prison sentence.
 
A panel of five judges voted 3-2 on Tuesday to reject petitions to overturn last June's plea bargain, which led to Katsav resigning in disgrace.
Katsav will plead guilty under the deal to lesser charges of sexual harassment against women in his employment.
Menachem Mazuz, the Israeli attorney-general, had said he had evidence to try Katsav, 62, for raping a woman employee, but then opted not to charge him with the offence due to conflicting details in her account.
 
Women's rights groups had urged the court to throw out the deal and Kinneret Barashi, a lawyer who represents one of the alleged victims in the case, described the ruling as a "black day" for the judicial system."

'Not a victory'

Katsav became Israel's first head of state to be convicted of sex offences and the second to be forced out of the office due to a scandal.

Katsav agreed under the deal to admit to having committed indecent acts against another woman who worked for him and to having sexually harassed another.

Under the arrangement with Mazuz, Katsav will not be imprisoned but will have to make a court appearance to enter his guilty plea.

He agreed to a suspended prison sentence and a fine of $11,000.

In its ruling, the supreme court said it saw no reason to interfere with Mazuz's decision.

Katsav, who portrayed himself in public as a victim of "incitement and persecution", resigned from the largely ceremonial post in June.

His attorney, Zion Amir, told reporters the former president, who has kept out of the public eye since his resignation, had suffered enough.

"This is not a victory. This is a sad day," Amir said. "After all, the former president went through a lot to reach this point. From the start, I think the petitions were unnecessary."

Source:
Agencies
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