Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, one of Religious Zionism's leaders, said Thursday that the former President Moshe Katsav was innocent, and that the Tel Aviv District Court should not have convicted him of the sexual offenses detailed in the indictment.
The rabbi stated that the case files had previously been revealed to him and his conclusion was that the man in question was innocent. His statements were first published on the Kipa website.
The three judges who handled the case, led by Judge George Karra, brought down each and every one of Katsav's claims and noted that Katsav's testimony was "littered with lies, big and small" and that his alibi had been refuted.
The judges added that the witnesses he brought were exposed as "empty and untrustworthy vessels" whose testimony was "arranged and coordinated".
In a talk with Ynet, Rabbi Aviner said: "I thought they would acquit him of the charges and I was surprised. I don't understand the verdict. I don't understand their considerations. I've seen the materials, everyone can see it." Of the judges the rabbi said: "Sometimes you make mistakes. Anyone can make them. I can, you can and the courts can."
The rabbi, who is the rabbi of the settlement of Beit El and the Ateret Kohanim Yeshiva in Jerusalem, stressed that he did not take the crimes ascribed to Katsav - two counts of rape, sexual harassment, two counts of indecent acts and disruption of legal proceedings - lightly.
"Of course, the crimes he was accused of are very serious," he said, "the question is, is there concrete evidence that he is guilty".
Rabbi Aviner himself was involved in sexual harassment allegations when it was claimed that he sexually harassed two women, but the Supreme Rabbinical Court determined that the allegations were false.
Last month, the rabbi claimed that Roman Zadorov was innocent of the murder of teeanger Tair Rada, after he had already been convicted of the crime. In a letter of encouragement to Zadorov he wrote that he was shocked by the verdict and promised to work on his behalf.
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