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Demjanjuk's lawyer to defend Israeli president

January 15, 2012
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JERUSALEM—An Israeli attorney who defended an accused Nazi-era war criminal has joined the legal team of the disgraced former president, Moshe Katsav, an associate of the lawyer said Sunday.

Yoram Sheftel will help Katsav in a last attempt to overturn a rape conviction that sent him to prison last month, courts officials said. Tal Malik, an attorney at Sheftel's law firm, confirmed he would help defend Katsav.

Katsav, 66, is serving a seven-year term for raping an employee when he was a Cabinet minister in 1998, and of sexually harassing two other women when he was president from 2000 to 2007.

Israel's Supreme Court rejected Katsav's appeal in November and issued the prison sentence. But it has agreed to give Katsav another hearing.

Sheftel, who has called the Katsav conviction a farce, is no stranger to controversy.

He represented John Demjanjuk, who in the 1980s stood trial in Israel accused of being the notoriously brutal guard "Ivan the Terrible" at the Treblinka extermination camp.

Demjanjuk was convicted, sentenced to death, and then acquitted in 1993 when the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the ruling. Judges said Demjanjuk was a victim of mistaken identity.

While working on the case, Sheftel had acid thrown in his face. Since then, he has also defended Israeli mafia suspects, and he hosts an incendiary talk radio program.

In 2011, a German court convicted Demjanjuk, 91, of being an accessory to the murder of 28,000 people while guarding the Sobibor death camp in Poland.

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