Israeli media hail Katsav verdict

Image caption,
Mr Katsav was found guilty of sexual offences committed while he was president

Commentators in the Israeli press generally welcome the guilty verdict handed down to former president Moshe Katsav.

Mr Katsav was found guilty of rape by a Tel Aviv court on Thursday, a fact that some commentators said proved that the Israeli justice system was robust.

Several felt that while Katsav's actions had been shameful, the institution of the president had not been disgraced and the country's honour remained intact. One cast doubt on the impartiality of the judges.

Ariella Ringle Hoffman in Yediot Aharonot

The State of Israel was not in the dock with Moshe Katsav. Even his wife Gila was not there, only him. Therefore, this is a very difficult day for Katsav and this is a good thing. However, this is a good day for the State of Israel.

Moshe Katsav, Israel's eight president, entered Tel Aviv District Court yesterday as Alfred Dreyfus and left there as a sexual offender of the most inferior kind. A small, miserable, manipulative man overflowing with urges, a liar - this is what the court determined yesterday.

The conviction of Moshe Katsav does not disgrace the institution of the presidency and does not crush the nation's honour. Israeli society has successfully survived bigger traumas.

The line-up of judges could argue 1,001 times that the media did not influence them. However, this is an untenable claim.

According to the verdict, the eighth president of the State of Israel is some kind of a Mafiosi... Katsav employed a group of pimps, seducers and cleaners.

The conviction yesterday of ex-President Moshe Katsav for sex crimes in the Tel Aviv District Court is a milestone - for the legal system and the government in Israel. It wasn't only the private matter of citizen Katsav that was weighed in the scales of justice, so were equality before the law and the ability of the investigative, prosecution and court systems to handle the rarest of cases, that of the highest level of officials ... Katsav's disgraceful defeat is a victory for the complainants and for law enforcement in striving for justice and for Israeli society.

Every Israeli should be disturbed by the offences of which ex-President Moshe Katsav was unanimously convicted yesterday − two counts of rape and one count each of forcible indecent assault, indecent assault and sexual harassment. They are a knife in the heart of the rule of law, which the president symbolises and is meant to protect... Since yesterday we have before us a convicted president who bears a terrible shame, pending an appeal, who has written a disgraceful chapter in the book of Israeli democracy.

There is also a positive side to the Katsav conviction. It is tangible proof that no-one, not even the state's most elevated citizen, is beyond the reach of justice. Equality before the law is protected in Israel, regardless of the extent of one's political clout or powerful connections. This is a testimony to the strength of Israeli democracy.

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