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Former Israeli president enters jail for sexual offenses

(Xinhua)

16:41, December 07, 2011

JERUSALEM, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- Former Israeli President Moshe Katzav on Wednesday morning entered prison to begin serving a seven-year jail term for rape and other sexual offenses.

Katzav will serve out his sentence at Ma'asiyahu, a prison in central Israel where two former Israeli ministers are currently incarcerated for embezzlement of public funds. The Israel Prisons Service said the former president must report to jail no later than 10 a.m. local time (0800 GMT).

In an emotional televised statement, Katzav said that Israel was "executing an innocent man without testimonies or evidence."

"The truth will one day be revealed. It will come, I don't know when. It will be with you or without you, but I didn't receive a single moment of grace," Katzav told reporters who crowded outside his home in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi.

"There is something worse than convicting the president on criminal charges, and that is the state placing in prison a grandfather ... I once again declare: I never hurt anyone," Katzav said.

Katzav, the first president in Israel's history to be sentenced to prison, implored Israelis to "not blindly follow the court's verdict" and read the appeal he filed with the Supreme Court, which rejected it on Nov. 10.

Prior to exiting his home, he bid farewell to his wife, sons and friends.

Police deployed large forces at the prison well ahead of Katzav's arrival.

The former president will initially be held in a cell for inmates who are thought to be at risk of suicide and will be closely monitored by prison guards, the Ha'aretz daily reported.

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