Former Israeli President Katsav Begins Prison Term

Moshe Katsav, Israel’s former president, reported to Maasiyahu prison today to begin serving a seven-year sentence.

Katsav was elected in 2000 and served until 2007, when he was forced to resign after several women came forward with allegations of rape and sexual harassment. In December 2010, he was convicted on accounts of rape, sexual harassment, and forceful indecent assault against three women.

Three months later, Katsav was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to report to the prison in November. He reported to Maasiyahu today to begin his sentence.

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Before entering the prison, Katsav addressed the media: “A man is executed today because the court chose not to believe 20 real-time witnesses, instead taking the word of 20 witnesses speaking after the fact. One day you’ll see that you have buried a man alive.”

Sivan Weizman, spokeswoman for the prison, told The Associated Press: “After serving a quarter of his sentence, Katsav could become eligible for spells of leave away from prison and could even apply to have his term reduced.”

She also stated that Katsav would be housed in a portion of the prison reserved for observant Jews. Prisoners in that section are woken for early-morning prayers and spend most of the day in religious study.

Though Katsav will be in a religious section, Israel’s Minister for Internal Security, Yitzhak Aharonovich told Israel Radio, “Moshe Katsav will go to jail as planned and will receive the same conditions as other prisoners.”

According to BBC, “The case has embarrassed many in Israel, where some commentators say Katsav should never have been elected president when there were so many rumors circulating about his conduct.”

Davies added: “The jailing of such a high-profile figure is proof that Israel has a strong legal system and, uniquely in the Middle East, is a country where sexual assault against women is taken seriously.”

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