After everything we’ve been through, the scandalous plea bargain - the upscale lawyers, the shameless media advisors, the attorney general’s irresponsible statements, Katsav’s horrific press conference - and after becoming the laughingstock of the entire civilized world, what were we left with? The verdict of a refrigerator maintenance man.
Because that’s the precedent the judges chose to quote in their verdict: The sentence given to a refrigerator technician who raped a client in her home and got six years in prison. The president is no different than this technician, the judges said. A rapist is a rapist, and he deserves to get a rapist’s sentence.
Moshe Katsav entered the courtroom Tuesday as the man at the center of an unprecedented media scandal. He left court an hour later as the man he is now: A serial rapist and liar who is going to prison.
To ensure that nobody misses the contempt they felt for him, the judges made sure to add a probationary clause to the sentence that would send Katsav to jail again should he go back to his old ways and continue to harass women after his release. “We have become familiar with you,” this clause says, “and we know you cannot be trusted.”
In more than one way, the verdict handed out on Tuesday corrected what the overall legal procedure did wrong. The trial was held for President Katsav, yet the punishment was meted out to citizen Katsav. The trial made all of us feel ashamed, yet the sentence only shames the man who was convicted.
It’s not that anyone had a choice here. There is no way to try a president without turning it into a media and social circus. Katsav’s borderline personality did not help matters on this front.
Yet the verdict, as though aiming to correct the twisted elements in this story, was handed out in a professional and dry tone, and aside from the (justified) criticism one of the judges leveled at former Attorney General Mazuz, it reminded us that the courts are not only meant to do justice, but also to restore order.
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