JERUSALEM, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Israel's Supreme Court Thursday ordered former President Moshe Katsav to start serving a seven year prison sentence on rape charges next month.
The hearing was broadcast by the three main Israeli television channels.
A Tel Aviv court last year convicted Katsav on rape, sexual harassment, indecent act using force and obstruction of justice charges, and sentenced him to seven years in prison.
His lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court hoping to reduce the sentence and claimed one of the victims lied to the court, saying there was a romance between the former president and the victim, negating the rape claim, The Jerusalem Post said.
A panel of three Supreme Court judges rejected the appeal and described rape as "one of the most terrible crimes," the paper said. The judges also noted the incidents occurred at the height of Katsav's public career and at the president's official residence.
In issuing its ruling, the Supreme Court said "a deep sadness falls over the state of Israel because a person who was a minister in the government, the deputy prime minister and the president of the country carried out these acts," the paper said. "The hardest thing of all is to see that the person who used to be the symbol of the land of Israel is going to prison.
The court ordered Katsav to appear before the Tel Aviv District Court on Dec. 7 to begin his prison term.