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Details of 'rape by deceit' conviction surface

Sept. 6, 2010 9:43 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 7, 2010 5:08 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- In July, an Israeli court sentenced a Palestinian, Sabar Kushur, to 18 months imprisonment for obtaining consensual sex by failing to reveal he was not a Jewish bachelor.

The Israeli weekly magazine HaIr on Friday published testimony given in court by the complainant.

Kushur was initially charged with rape by force, and the conviction of "rape by deceit" was a plea bargain formulated and agreed to by the prosecution and defense. According to the report in HaIr, Kushur's lawyers initiated the "rape by deceit" charge.

After the conviction, Israeli press reports on the court's verdict were quickly picked up by the international media, which cited the court's decision as an example of discrimination against Israel’s Arab citizens.

According to the woman’s testimony in court, declassified at the request of HaIr, Kashur brutally raped her and left her half naked, bleeding and beaten in a stairwell.

She told the court "he said that if I stay silent and I don't resist, then it would end faster and it wouldn't be like, he wouldn't use force. I still resisted him and it was forced," HaIr reported.

Immediately after the incident she was taken by ambulance to Shaarei Tzedek Hospital, her testimony said, and from there she was taken to Kfar Shaul psychiatric hospital, the report said.

In her testimony, the woman clarified that she was taken to Kfar Shaul because the hospital had a ward for women who had been sexually abused, HaIr said.

According to the report, the initial rape charge was reduced to "rape by deceit" to avoid further traumatizing the woman, who had come under aggressive questioning about her history of being sexually abused, and her former occupation as a sex worker.

The defense had demanded the woman testified again against previous complaints she had made, some of which had led to indictments. To avoid putting the woman on the stand again, the prosecutor agreed to the defense lawyer's suggestion of a plea bargain, he told Ha'Ir.

The testimony sharply contradicted media reporting of the incident.

Following his conviction, Saber Kushur was interviewed on television, radio, and by several publications.

In an interview with the British newspaper The Observer, the interviewer reflected that the incident did not cast either party in a favourable light, and in a blog post on the website of sister publication The Guardian described the charge as a case of revenge by a lover.

The incident was variously referred to as a "casual fling," a "brief encounter," an "afternoon quickie," and a "quickie on the roof of a nearby office block."

Journalists also speculated that by having sex with a stranger the woman may not have sent "the right message."

A reporter blogging on the website of the Qatar-based TV network Al-Jazeera suggested the woman had reported the rape when she realized Kushur was "never going to call her" and she "wasn't the woman of his dreams."

Commenting on reporting of the verdict, Tel Aviv-based journalist Lisa Goldman noted that not all the information was available to journalists at the time, as the court documents were sealed.

HaIr's request for the court documents, however, was made through standard legal channels and was granted in one day, she said.

In a polarized society, there is a tendency to "judge situations according to political ideology" without thorough examination, Goldman added.

Ten days after the verdict, Kushur's defense appealed to the High Court for an acquittal, arguing that "the facts described in the updated indictment shouldn't result in charges of rape by deception."

The Supreme Court has yet to set a date for Kushur's appeal, but agreed to delay his sentence and eased his remand conditions.

A spokesman for the Justice Ministry responded that the prosecution was "especially surprised" by the appeal for acquittal, given that the charge was the basis of the plea bargain the defense formulated with the prosecution and signed, HaIr reported.

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