TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav was convicted of rape on Thursday by a Tel Aviv court.
Following are some facts about Katsav and the case against him:
— Katsav resigned the ceremonial presidency in disgrace at the end of June 2007 after a long investigation into allegations that he raped and otherwise sexually assaulted female staffers. He had immunity from prosecution while in office.
— Shimon Peres, elected earlier in June to replace Katsav, became president on July 15, 2007.
— In 2008, Katsav initially agreed to and then reneged on a plea bargain under which he could have avoided rape charges and a possible jail term in exchange for admitting lesser sexual offences.
— Katsav was indicted in Tel Aviv District Court in March 2009 for rape and other sexual offences against three women who used to work for him while he was president and in his former capacity as Israeli tourism minister, charges he denied. He was also charged with obstructing justice and tampering with a witness after the scandal surfaced in 2006.
—- The minimum sentence for rape in Israel is four years’ imprisonment, and the maximum 16 years.
— Katsav was a journalist and active in local politics before entering parliament in 1977. He held ministerial posts, including deputy prime minister and minister of tourism from 1996-1999 and he became a leading figure and powerbroker in the right-wing Likud party.
— Katsav beat out Nobel Peace Prize laureate Peres to become president in 2000 after Ezer Weizman resigned from the post following revelations he had received $450,000 in gifts from a French millionaire.
— Born in December 1945 in the city of Yazd in central Iran, Katsav was the second Israeli president of Sephardic origin — Jews who trace their origins to North Africa and the Middle East — and the first to come from a Muslim country. Jews of Ashkenazi, or European, descent have traditionally held sway in Israel.
Writing by David Cutler; London Editorial Reference Unit