PM says guilty verdict in rape case against former president sends message that 'women have full rights over their bodies.'
Opposition leader Livni: the day in which a public representative is found guilty of rape is not a simple day for the State of Israel. Society must support those who have the courage to speak out.
Complainant who first exposed former President Moshe Katsav's sex offences satisfied with verdict: 7 worst years of my life finally over. One could not have described what I went through more accurately.
This is a sad day for the State of Israel and its citizens," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday in response to the guilty verdict in the rape trial against former President Moshe Katsav.
The PM said the Tel Aviv District Court had "sent two messages, loud and clear: That all men and women are equal under the law, and that women have full rights over their own bodies."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that "this is a difficult and sad day for the State of Israel, a day in which our former president was convicted of such serious crimes."
"However, this is also a day in which our justice system proved again that everyone is equal before the law," Barak added. "The justice system is a central source of strength for Israeli democracy."
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni responded to the verdict by saying "the day in which a public representative is found guilty of rape is not a simple day for the State of Israel."
Speaking at a media conference in Ariel, the Kadima chairwoman said the court's decision "sends a clear message in regards to public officials in Israel... and a message to victims.
"The role of society is to support those who have the courage to speak out, after years and years," said Livni in reference to complainant A., who filed her complaint against Katsav years after the event.
The opposition leader said that the "message coming out of the court today will strengthen Israeli society," adding that the ruling was "definitely not simple, and there's no joy for anyone involved."
'7 worst years of my life finally over'
Several hours after the Tel Aviv District Court convicted former President Moshe Katsav of two counts of rape, one of his victims, A. from the President's Residence, expressed hope she could now turn over a new leaf in her life.
"Seven years ago I first met Moshe Katsav and I hope today marks the end of the seven worst years of my life," she said in a statement. "I heard the verdict. One could not have described what I went through more accurately. I salute the women who gathered the courage and complained and am pleased that the court allowed the truth to come out."
The Katsav affair was first exposed in July 2006 when then-President Katsav complained before Attorney General Menachem Mazuz of being blackmailed by who is now known as A. from the President's Residence. The blackmail issue never resulted in legal procedures but a police investigation launched on Mazuz's order opened a Pandora's box as far as the president's relations with various of his subordinates and ended Thursday upon his conviction.
A., whose complaints were not included in the indictment due to the statute of limitations, said Thursday she was considering her next steps and thanked those who supported her along the way.
"I have been privileged to put an end to the suffering of many women who worked under Moshe Katsav and prevent the suffering of other women. I thank those who believed in me, supported and encouraged me along the way in face of the smear campaign held by Kastav and his men," her statement noted.
Following the reading of the verdict another complainant, A. from the Transportation Ministry said: "This is a happy moment for me and a sad one for the State of Israel. Despite Katsav's disgraceful conduct the legal system proved that truth and justice are paramount in our country."
The attorney of another complainant, A. from the Tourism Ministry said that her client had received the news of the conviction "with tears of relief."
Click to view image: 'A. from President's Residence'
Click to view image: 'Women's groups protest outside court,TA '
Click to view image: 'Complainant ’A.'
Click to view image: 'Ex-president Katsav enters court,TA '
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