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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 February 2008, 09:57 GMT
Israel upholds Katsav plea deal
Moshe Katsav
Mr Katsav escapes rape charges and pleads guilty to harassment
Israel's Supreme Court has upheld a controversial plea bargain that allows ex-President Moshe Katsav to escape rape charges and possible jail.

Under the terms of the deal which Mr Katsav made with the attorney general, he will not be charged with rape.

Instead, he pleads guilty to two charges of sexual harassment and will receive a suspended sentence.

Allegations of rape and sexual harassment were made by four women who had worked for the former president.

Women's rights have led the protests against the attorney general's decision to drop rape charges against Mr Katsav.

A panel of five judges voted by three to two to reject petitions from six individuals and organisations to overturn the plea bargain made in June last year.

A lawyer for one of the women who accused Mr Katsav said she was "very much infuriated" by the court's decision.

July 2000: Elected president of Israel
January 2007: Charged with rape and sexual harassment
28 June 2007: Strikes plea bargain to avoid rape charges and a prison term
29 June 2007: Resigns as part of plea bargain
July 2007: Israel's top court allows challenge to plea bargain

"If the attorney general's decision was wrong, deficient, riddled with shortcomings, distorts reality, causes many people emotional upheaval and leaves a woman's body defenceless, then I think it would have been proper to intervene in such a vile plea bargain," Kinneret Barashi told the Associated Press.

Btu Mr Katsav's lawyer, Zion Amir, said the former president had gone through enough.

"This is not a victory. This is a sad day," he said.

"After all, the former president went through a lot to reach this point. From the start, I think the petitions were unnecessary."

Stepping down

Originally, the police charged Moshe Katsav with rape, sexual harassment and abuse of power.

Part of the controversial deal was for Moshe Katsav to step down as president of Israel, a largely ceremonial role.

He will also have to pay damages to his accusers.

Rape convictions in Israel carry a maximum sentence of 16 years in prison.

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