Judges at the Magistrates' Court preparing to preside over the trial of former President Moshe Katsav gathered expert jurist opinions that may have paved the way to an active prison sentence for Katsav, this despite the plea bargain the former president had signed with the State Prosecution – Yedioth Aharonoth reported on Thursday.
According to the report, the expert opinions were put together by judges' legal aids prior to the trial's commencement and before Katsav announced the annulment of the plea bargain.
One such review concludes it is possible to justify a decision to deviate from the plea bargain while a second opinion argues why Katsav's case merits an active jail term rather than a suspended sentence, which is what the Prosecution committed to.
Both the documents cited above were prepared at the request of the lead justice presiding over the trial, Judge Shulamit Dotan.
In the first document Dotan points to the verdict handed down by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish in regards to the petitions filed to the Supreme Court against Katsav's plea bargain. The verdict, Dotan instructs her aid, contains points made by Beinish that will allow a deviation from the agreed plea bargain.
In the second document, the aid reviews the accepted sentences handed down by courts for the offenses Katsav was meant to plead guilty to.
Court: Records prove nothing
Katsav's legal team was incensed by the story.
"We are finding it difficult to believe that judges in the State of Israel would rule without trial; without hearing both sides and without facing the defendant. This borders on the criminal, on the court breaching the trust of the public," attorneys Zion Amir, Avigdor Feldman and Abraham Lavi said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for the court said the matter involved "internal documents written after the indictment was filed to the court and after the plea bargain was announced.
"They were intended to aid the court in handling the plea bargain aspect of the judicial process in an effective and relevant manner, and there is nothing in them to suggest the court taking a stance on the possible outcome."