Court Convicts Israel ex-President Moshe Katsav of Rape

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Israeli former president Moshe Katsav faces at least eight years in prison after he was convicted Thursday of two counts of rape for assaulting a former employee, a Tel Aviv court said.

The verdict, which also found Katsav guilty of sexually harassing a second employee, caps a four-year process that saw the former president resign his post and spurn a plea deal that would have cleared him of the rape charges.

As he read the details of the verdict, presiding Judge George Kara said Katsav had "engaged in a campaign of vilification against the plaintiffs."

And he told the former president that his decision to nullify a plea deal "was a grave mistake."

"We believe the plaintiff (who accused Katsav of rape), because her testimony is supported by elements of evidence, and she told the truth," the judge said.

As Kara read the verdict before a packed courtroom, the 65-year-old Katsav stood visibly distraught and muttered: "No, no."

The rape charges each carry a sentence of between four and 16 years in prison. In addition to the rape charges, Katsav faced accusations of sexual harassment, indecent acts, harassing witnesses and obstructing justice.

The sentence will be announced at a later, undetermined date.

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