The Supreme Court of Israel [official website, in Hebrew] on Thursday upheld the rape conviction of former Israeli president Moshe Katsav [BBC profile]. The court rejected [AP article] Katsav's appeal of his conviction for rape, sexual abuse and sexual harassment, finding that he misused his position as president, from which he was forced to resign after the allegations were made public. The unanimous decision by the three-judge panel ended the ordeal that began in 2006. Katsav has consistently denied the charges, and his lawyer took issue with the court's decision, calling into question the credibility of the victim's testimony. The confirmation of the conviction is seen widely in Israel as a victory for women's rights and an enticement for rape victims to come forward. Katsav is expected to begin serving his seven-year sentence December 7, although his lawyers said they would study the ruling and decide whether to seek another trial before a different Supreme Court panel.
Katsav's appeal began in August after he submitted a 300-page document [JURIST reports] following his conviction and sentencing. His sentence was delayed [JURIST report] in May pending the outcome of this decision. Katsav was convicted in December 2010 after rejected a controversial plea bargain [JURIST reports]. The indictment came down in March 2009 in response to the original allegations [JURIST reports] levied in 2006.