Former Israeli president on trial for rape

The trial has begun of the former Israeli president, accused of rape and sexual harrassment. Moshe Katzav declined to comment as he arrived at court in Tel Aviv, but has always protested his innocence, saying he is the victim of a witch-hunt.

He’s accused of raping and molesting a government worker while he was tourism minister in the late 1990s, and of sexually harrassing two other women after he became head of state in 2000. It’s also alleged he obstructed justice and interfered with witnesses when the scandal became public in 2006.

Israel’s drive against corruption in public life also saw the jailing of two former ministers. Former Welfare Minister Shlomo Benizri went to prison for taking bribes. Judges more than doubled his term on appeal to set an example.

Also jailed was former Finance Minister Avram Hirshson, for theft and fraud during his time as a union leader. Hirshson is a close ally of Israel’s former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was formally charged with corruption on Sunday.


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