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No Prison Time for Katzav - for Now

The Supreme Court has ruled: former President Moshe Katzav will not enter prison until his appeal is decided.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 5/19/2011, 11:04 AM / Last Update: 5/19/2011, 11:28 AM

Flash 90

The Supreme Court has ruled: Ex-President Moshe Katzav will not enter prison until his appeal is decided.

Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger decided Wednesday that it “cannot be said that [Katzav’s] chances of winning his appeal lack any foundation.”

“This, without making any concrete assertions,” the judge made sure to add.

Had the judge decided otherwise, Katzav would have been sent to prison almost immediately. His sentence was originally to have begun on May 8.

Katzav was reportedly so moved by the decision that he could at first barely speak. He later said, “There are judges in Jerusalem.” This has become a famous expression of praise for the judicial system, ever since the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin said it in the 1970’s after the Supreme Court ruled that the original Elon Moreh settlement was located on private land and could not remain there.

“A rock has been removed from my heart,” Katzav added. “I view this as a clear proof that my claims are worthy of being properly clarified in the Supreme Court. But of course this is just a small part of the campaign, and the main battle is yet ahead of us.”

The defense had claimed that because of Katzav’s unique stature as a former president, it would be harmful to the honor of the State of Israel if he were to be wrongfully imprisoned, and therefore the sentence should be postponed until after his appeal. Judge Danziger agreed.

Katzav and his lawyers have long complained that his unanimous District Court decision conviction, for which he was sentenced to seven years in prison, was unfair. Specifically, they say, he was not allowed to present critical evidence in his defense. The trial was held behind closed doors.