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Court sentences former Israeli president to 7 years in prison

By the CNN Wire Staff
Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav (C) arrives at the district court in Tel Aviv on March 22, 2011.
Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav (C) arrives at the district court in Tel Aviv on March 22, 2011.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Moshe Katsav pulls out of an earlier plea deal
  • He is guilty on multiple charges of rape and sexual harassment
  • He resigned the presidency in 2007 because of the sexual assault allegations
  • The case involved three women -- two in the president's office and one in the Tourism Ministry

Jerusalem (CNN) -- A Tel Aviv district court Tuesday sentenced former Israeli President Moshe Katsav to seven years in prison on multiple charges of rape and sexual harassment.

The case involved three women -- two in the president's office and one in the Tourism Ministry.

In late December, the three-judge panel found Katsav guilty of two charges of rape, two charges of forceful sexual harassment and one charge of sexual harassment.

Katsav had agreed in 2007 to plead guilty to lesser charges and pay a fine to avoid jail time, but he pulled out of the deal when it came time to enter his plea.

2010: Moshe Katsav convicted of rape
RELATED TOPICS
  • Israel
  • Moshe Katsav

The plea bargain caused a public storm in Israel, mainly because it did not include charges of rape, contrary to what had been suggested in a draft indictment.

Katsav, of the center-right Likud Party, was president of Israel from 2000 to 2007. He was minister of tourism before that. The charges stem from allegations made against him in both jobs.

He resigned the presidency in June 2007 because of the sexual assault allegations.

The judges who read the verdict said that "due to the severity of the crime, the punishment must be clear and precise." They added that "all are equal in the eyes of the law."

Katzav shouted at the judges, "You let lies win."

The former president's sentence will start on May 8. His lawyers said he will appeal the sentence.

Katzav left the court without saying a word, surrounded by family members and security who tried to shield him from the media.

"This is a day of sadness and shame, but also one of deep appreciation and pride in the Israeli justice system," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "No one is above the law, not even a president."

CNN's Michal Zippori contributed to this report