Friday, June 29, 2007

Katsav's Shameful Plea Bargain

Moshe Katsav will not go to jail. Under a plea bargain crafted by his lawyers with Attorney General Menny Mazuz, he will admit he committed minor sexual offences and will receive a suspended sentence of one year. He will also be required to pay the accusers compensation.

This is quite a questionable plea bargain. It seems prosecutors have built a solid rape case, and could have achieved a conviction. Mazuz's reasoning for his decision is unacceptable.

"This agreement minimizes the harm to the institution of the presidency," said the attorney general. "It was important to spare Israel from seeing a president on trial." Well, actually, the harm to the presidency has already been done. Seeing a president on trial would be very good for Israel and would give us the feeling that equality before the law exists here. It is true that a president charged with rape is an embarrassment for Israel, but the embarrassment stems from the very possibility that our president could do such a thing. It is even greater an embarrassment if our president gets away with rape, despite the evidence against him, only because he is the president.

Mazuz also said that this is a big step. Katsav's status will change from president to sexual offender. Technically, that's true. But if the evidence against him is so strong, the change should be even more dramatic - from president to prisoner.

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