A Tel Aviv court sentenced former Israeli president Moshe Katsav to seven years in prison for rape and sexual harassment, Jerusalem Post has reported.

Katsav broke down in tears on hearing the verdict, which also handed him two years in probation besides a fine NIS 100,000 to victim, saying: They made a serious mistake, it will be proven.

Katsav had been convicted of the charges in December last year. The victims of the accused were subject to sexual harassment and were in distressful situations that caused them to be afraid... The repeated nature of the offenses over a long period of time shows a behavior pattern that is a reason for harsh punishment, a judge read out the court's rationale for the sentencing.

Two of the rape charges were from his time as a cabinet minister, and the sexual harassment charge was from his term as president, said the Post.

Katsav, a Likud party leader, became Israeli president in 2000 when he defeated Shimon Peres. Katsav, who was born in the Iranian city of Yazd, had joined the right wing party at an early age and held important positions within the party and the government. He resigned in 2007.

The sexual harassment case is traced to a complaint he gave to the Attorney General in 2006 in which he accused a female employee of blackmail. However, the tables turned on him when the woman accused him of sexual offences.