Former President Moshe Katsav, who has been sentenced to seven years in prison for rape, arrived at the Supreme Court Wednesday for a hearing on his appeal to postpone his incarceration.
Katsav has appealed his conviction, and is attempting to convince the court to delay his prison term until after a ruling. His attorneys told the court that he is "not a threat".
Attorney Avigdor Feldman, first to speak at Wednesday's hearing, asked that Katsav's appeal be ruled upon as soon as possible. "The prosecution will agree with me that Katsav is not a threat," he said.
"It's been more than five years since the affair exploded, and Katsav was free for the duration of the trial and carried out all of the court's orders. He has no intention of fleeing punishment."
Feldman reminded the court that the appeal may be accepted. "We must keep in mind that Katsav was president. The president represents and embodies Israel's image. You cannot ignore the fact that a president will go to jail with all of the humiliation that entails only to be exonerated later," he said.
But the prosecution argued that sending Katsav to jail immediately is in "the public's best interest".
"Legally the case is a regular one. The defendant was convicted of serious crimes. Katsav must begin serving his sentence – seven years in prison – before the appeal begins. Katsav's immediate incarceration is in the public's best interest," said Prosecutor Aryeh Peter.
He added that public faith in the court system may be harmed if a delay is allowed. "We must show that the same standards apply to the president and any lumberjack or water-drawer," Peter said.
Katsav drove to the courthouse in Jerusalem from his home in Kiryat Malachi together with his children and brother. They departed after morning prayers, at 7:30 am, with the former president refusing to comment before the press.
Despite the urgency of the case, sources say Justice Yoram Danziger is not likely to make a decision on Wednesday. He is allowed to take a number of days and then announce his ruling via email.
Tova Dadon contributed to this report
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