"This is a sad day for the State of Israel and its citizens," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday in response to the guilty verdict in the rape trial against former President Moshe Katsav.
The PM said the Tel Aviv District Court had "sent two messages, loud and clear: That all men and women are equal under the law, and that women have full rights over their own bodies."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that "this is a difficult and sad day for the State of Israel, a day in which our former president was convicted of such serious crimes."
"However, this is also a day in which our justice system proved again that everyone is equal before the law," Barak added. "The justice system is a central source of strength for Israeli democracy."
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni responded to the verdict by saying "the day in which a public representative is found guilty of rape is not a simple day for the State of Israel."
Speaking at a media conference in Ariel, the Kadima chairwoman said the court's decision "sends a clear message in regards to public officials in Israel... and a message to victims.
"The role of society is to support those who have the courage to speak out, after years and years," said Livni in reference to complainant A., who filed her complaint against Katsav years after the event.
The opposition leader said that the "message coming out of the court today will strengthen Israeli society," adding that the ruling was "definitely not simple, and there's no joy for anyone involved."
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