Former President Moshe Katsav's attorney reminded the Supreme Court on Sunday of the trial of John Demjanjuk, a Nazi guard convicted this year for his role in killing 28,000 Jews in the Sobibor death camp.
Katsav was at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem for a hearing on his appeal against convictions of rape, sexual harassment, and indecent acts as well as the seven year prison sentence he received for them.
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"Let us recall that Demjanjuk was identified by witnesses whom no one doubted. People who worked with him in that horrible extermination process recognized him," the attorney, Avigdor Feldman, told the court.
"But now, in the stage of appeals, the state has brought in documents from Russia, from people who actively took part in the extermination process. They claimed that Ivan the Terrible was a man named Marchenko and not Demjanjuk."
Thus, Feldman continued, "the prosecution must provide a version that transcends any reasonable doubt, and this conclusion can be adopted even if there is evidence incompatible with the defendant's testimony."
But the District Court, Feldman argued, "took the defendant's version and processed it, molded it to the facts."
Feldman claimed at the beginning of the hearing that A., whom Katsav was convicted of raping, "suffers from very significant memory loss on important issues."
Feldman also clarified that he did not intend on presenting an alternative defense, but hinted that Katsav and A. may have had an affair, a claim the former president has himself rejected.
"In order for the court to discuss this possibility, shouldn't the appellant himself claim this?" Justice Salim Joubran retorted.
He went on to insist that Katsav was lying about his relationship with A. "There is another version of the relationship, and he is not telling the truth," Feldman said of his client.
When Joubran continued to insist on knowing why Katsav would not admit to the affair, Feldman answered, "Why didn't he bring it up? We can raise assumptions. But even if the defendant is not telling the truth, he has an alibi."
Former president in court with entourage (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
'Still have faith court will accept claims'
Additional hearings on Katsav's appeal have been scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, with two additional possible hearing dates set aside, after which Katsav will learn whether he is going to prison.
"I still have faith that the Supreme Court will accept my claims," Katsav told his affiliates earlier, after his request for a stay of sentence was accepted.
Katsav's defense team is arguing that the Supreme Court must examine the minority opinion in the District Court decision and take an in depth look at Judge Yehudit Shevach's stance.
Judge Shevach was of the opinion that a shorter prison sentence and greater pecuniary compensation for the complainant would have been sufficient: "Early judgment of the defendant by the media puts him in a weak opening position."
Meanwhile, the prosecution will argue that the defense's claims should be rejected. It will argue, as in the District Court, that the witness testimonies were analyzed in the court based on objective evidence.
The prosecution plans to remind the court that after A. from the Tourism Ministry testified that President Katsav had raped her, the former president claimed there were no sexual relations – then claimed that they had had consensual relations and went back on his claim.
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