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Ex-Israel Pres. Moshe Katsav jailed for rape

Israeli President Moshe Katsav shouts during a press conference at his Jerusalem residence, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2007.
AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner

An Israeli court ordered former Israeli President Moshe Katsav to prison for seven years Tuesday following his rape conviction, rejecting his attorneys' request for leniency and making him the highest-ranking Israel official ever sent to jail.

The silver-haired Katsav broke down in tears and screamed at the judges: "You made a mistake! It is a lie! The girls know it is a lie!"

In December, the Tel Aviv District Court found Katsav, 65, guilty of raping a former employee and sexually harassing two other women who used to work for him. He also was convicted of indecent acts and obstruction of justice.

In sentencing the disgraced politician, the court said Katsav's record of public service would not be weighed in his favor, accusing him instead of exploiting his position to become a sexual offender.

The former president, who resigned under public pressure two weeks before his term was to end in 2007, went to trial after rejecting a plea bargain that would have kept him out of jail.

Video: Israeli PM Olmert asks Katsav to resign

Katsav denied all allegations, claiming he was a victim of a political witch hunt and suggesting he was targeted because he is a Sephardic Jew — a Jew of Middle Eastern origin.

The case began nearly five years ago when he complained that a female employee was trying to extort him. She went to police with her side of the story, and other women came forward with similar complaints of sexual assaults.