Israel: Katsav 'at risk of committing suicide'

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The Independent Online

The former Israeli president Moshe Katsav is so distraught over an impending prison sentence for rape that he is at risk of committing suicide, his lawyer said yesterday.

Zion Amir said that Katsav – who denied the charges – thought his conviction and sentencing to seven years in prison was a grave injustice.

Mr Amir noted Katsav's "frustration, pain and despair" and, when asked whether the former president might take his own life, the lawyer replied: "I had a strong foreboding about that when they were reading the sentence."

Mr Amir's assessment is the first glimpse into Katsav's state of mind since Tuesday's sentencing. In the past, he has declined to reply when asked if he feared for Katsav's life.

The former president – convicted in December of raping a former employee, sexually harassing two other women, as well as committing indecent acts and obstructing justice – is due to enter prison on 8 May.

The rape occurred when he served as Tourism Minister in the 1990s and other crimes were committed after he became President in 2000.

At his sentencing, the 65-year-old broke down in tears and screamed at the judges: "The verdict is untrue. It is a lie. The lies have won!"

Katsav is Israel's highest-ranking official ever jailed. The judges called him "manipulative" and said he had lied in his testimony.