JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Supreme Court has postponed the date former President Moshe Katsav will begin serving his prison sentence on rape and sexual assault convictions.
Katsav had been scheduled to enter prison next week to serve a seven-year sentence; on Monday he appealed his conviction on rape and sexual assault charges and requested a delay of his prison sentence, which was granted by the court Tuesday.
Katsav’s attorneys requested that the former Israeli president’s imprisonment be delayed pending a final decision on the appeal, which was set by the court on Tuesday for May 11; Katsav was supposed to enter prison on May 8.
The conviction was handed down in the Tel Aviv District Court in December.
Katsav also was ordered to pay more than $28,000 to the rape victim and about $7,000 to the sexual assault victim. He was ordered to serve two years of probation after he is released from prison.
The 300-page appeal suggested that it would be undignified for Katsav to show up at the Supreme Court for his appeal in handcuffs, according to reports. The appeal also asked that "weighty consideration should be given to the fact that Katsav served as the president of the State and Israel’s official representative at home and abroad."
The yearlong trial, which was closed to the public, ended with a guilty verdict on Dec. 30. Two years before the verdict was handed down, Katsav declined what was seen as a lenient plea bargain — one that dropped the rape charges for lesser charges and likely would have left him with a suspended sentence — saying that he wanted to clear his name in court.
Katsav, who immigrated to Israel from Iran in 1951, was elected president by the Knesset in 2000 in an upset of Shimon Peres. In 2007, Peres assumed the post following Katsav’s resignation in the wake of the allegations shortly before the end of his term.