Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav was sentence to seven years in prison for rape and sexual harassment. The decision was made by Israel's Supreme Court, upholding a prior lower-court conviction.
Iranian-born Katsav, 65, was originally found guilty in December of raping a Tourism Ministry employee and harassing two other women during his time as president between 2000 and 2007. He was sentenced to seven years in prison in March, but has remained free while awaiting a Supreme Court appeal.
He will report to prison on Dec. 7.
[Katsav] fell from the loftiest heights to the deepest depths, Judge Salim Joubran told the court. Such a senior official should be a role model to his subordinates. Every woman has a right to her own body. A right to dignity. A right to freedom. No one has the liberty to take any of those from her.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz called the Katsav trial a shining page in Israel's history of women's rights and political accountability. Power has no influence over justice.
From this day on, let nobody dare claim that these are women who tried to conspire against the president. Rather they are brave women who must empower all harassed women who are afraid to complain, said Tzipi Livni, Israel's opposition leader.
From the start of the whole saga, Katsav has repeatedly called the charges a political witch-hunt, as politicians are known to do. The case was based solely on the accusations and testimonies of the three women, as well as Katsav's defense.
In the end, the court ruled that the women were telling the truth and the former president was not.
Different women who didn't know each other told similar stories about the way he treated female subordinates. That is what the conviction was based on, Noya Rimalt, an expert on criminal law and feminist legal theory at Haifa University, told USA Today.
The position of Israeli President is largely ceremonial, with the Prime Minister holding executive power. The present appoints the head of the Bank of Israel, the State Comptroller and, interestingly, the members of the Israeli Supreme Court upon nomination by the Judicial Selection Committee. At least five of Irael's Supreme Court Justices were appointed under Katsav.