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Former Israeli PM gets 7 years for rape charge

March 22, 2011 10:09 A.M. (Updated: March 23, 2011 9:55 A.M.)
TEL AVIV (AFP) -- Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav arrived at the Tel Aviv district court on Tuesday, where judges handed down a sentence of seven years jail time after his conviction on two counts of rape and other sexual assault charges.

Katsav was convicted in December of rape, sexual harassment, indecent acts and obstruction of justice following a four-year scandal that shocked the nation.

As he arrived, hundreds of journalists packed around the entrance of the Tel Aviv district court to catch a glimpse of the disgraced president, who has proclaimed his innocence throughout the proceedings.

The prosecution has called for a lengthy jail term, highlighting the serious nature of the crimes, the damage inflicted on the victims and the shame he brought on the presidential office.

The maximum sentence for rape is 16 years behind bars, although theoretically Katsav could face an even longer sentence given he was convicted on several charges.

However, his lawyers have asked that he be spared prison time, and urged the three judges to take into account the media campaign against him, his public humiliation and inability to rehabilitate his reputation with "the mark of Cain forever etched on his forehead."

The 65-year-old former head of state was convicted of twice raping a victim identified as "Aleph" during his term as tourism minister, and sexually assaulting and harassing two other women while he was president.

He is widely expected to appeal the sentence.
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