Katzav before hearing sentence, 22.3.11.
Katzav before hearing sentence, 22.3.11. Israel news photo: Flash 90

No decision has been made on whether to send convicted former President Moshe Katzav to prison until appeals process has been completed.

Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger ended the hearing Wednesday without reaching a verdict on the matter.

Katzav, who was convicted on charges of rape and sexual assault, has appealed on claims the relationship was consensual.

Attorney Avigdor Feldman, acting for the defense, has asked the court for special consideration, to delay the start of his sentence, in light of Katzav's former status as president.

It would be an embarrassment to the country, argued the defense team, if the appeal were to be successful and the former president had spent time in prison as an innocent man.

However, attorney Aryeh Peter, acting for the State Attorney's Office, told the court, “legally, this is a regular case. The defendant was charged with a felony.... [he] should start serving his sentence before the appeal begins.”

Katzav was to enter prison this past Sunday, but the sentence was delayed pending a decision on the case. The judge is expected to hand down a decision within the next few days.

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