[JURIST] Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] had his seven-year prison sentence for rape and sexual assault delayed Wednesday pending the completion of his appeal [JURIST reports]. The Supreme Court of Israel [official website, in Hebrew] also ruled earlier that the 300-page appeal will be made public [Ynet News report] in the future under court restrictions. The Tel Aviv District Court [official website] convicted Katsav [JURIST report] in December, finding that he assaulted a female employee of the Department of Tourism during his time as minister and two women at the President's Residence during his time as president. Katsav's appeal puts forth that his relationship with the female employee was consensual and the trying judiciary was biased against him due to the media's pervasiveness during the trial.
Katsav was initially indicted on rape charges [JURIST report] in 2009 for allegedly assaulting female employees in the 1990s. In 2008, Katsav rejected a plea agreement [JURIST report] that would have permitted him to plead guilty to lesser charges of indecent assault, sexual harassment and obstruction of justice in exchange for a suspended sentence and the dropping of rape charges. The plea deal had been criticized [JURIST report] by women's and civil rights activists, prompting five separate petitions to overturn the agreement.