In one of the most high-profile rape convictions in history, a three-judge panel of the Tel Aviv district court found former Israeli president Moshe Katsav guilty of multiple charges of rape and sexual harassment yesterday. While obviously painful for any country, the conviction does show a commitment to blind justice in Israel where high-ranking officials are not given effective immunity seen on other countries in the region.
The court found that Katsav’s defense was “riddled with lies.”
The allegations involved two women working in the president’s office and one women from the tourism ministry.
The conviction followed Katsav’s decision to rescind an earlier agreement to plead guilty to lesser charges and pay a fine. The victims denounced the plea bargain. At the time, prosecutors responded to widespread criticism of the plea deal by insisting that they were uncertain of being able to secure convictions on the rape counts. Yet, shortly before the plea hearing, Katsav pulled out of the deal.
That decision will now cost Katsav dearly . . . absent a reversal on appeal.
Of course, the idea of investigating a former president — let alone convicting one — is viewed a bit differently by this Administration. Attorney General Eric Holder continues to block any investigation into torture ordered by President Bush despite the Administration’s insistence that water-boarding is indeed torture.