Katzav (r) and brother Lior
Katzav (r) and brother Lior Israel news photo: Flash 90

President Moshe Katzav will serve 7 years in prison, the High Court decided Thursday morning, after his appeal against conviction in a lower court on charges of molestation was rejected. Three High Court judges agreed unanimously that there was no reason for the court to intervene in the lower court ruling.

In his appeal, Katzav claimed that one of the claimants against him, “A” from the Tourism Ministry, was unreliable and that she had contradicted herself in testimony against him. The court rejected this claim, saying that A was a responsible and reliable witness.

Despite the conviction, the court agreed with Katzav's claim that he had been tried and sentenced by the media long before the court heard any evidence against him. “We agree that the media crossed a line against Israel's most prominent citizen.” The State Attorney, the court said, was clearly influenced by the media in his positions, and this was improper. However, the court added, Katzav should have realized that anything they he said about the case would be in the spotlight, and refusing to comment on aspects of the case would have served him better.

Katzav was convicted several months ago on charges of molestation and related crimes. He is likely to serve his term in Ma'asiyahu prison, Prison Authority officials said. In addition, he was ordered to pay NIS 100,000 to A in compensation.

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