Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav has vowed to fight for his innocence as his trial on charges of rape and other sexual offenses gets under way.
Mr. Katsav, who resigned in 2007 from his largely ceremonial position, told reporters outside a Tel Aviv courtroom Thursday that he expected a "long, tough battle to clear his name," adding that he would prove his innocence.

The court appearance was brief.  The judge adjourned proceedings until September 1.  However, Mr. Katsav's lawyers said they would file a written response to the charges within 30 days.

Mr. Katsav is accused of raping a woman who once worked for him and sexually harassing two other former female employees.

The indictment, which was issued last month,  says the women worked for Mr. Katsav while he was Israel's Tourism Minister in the 1990s, and president earlier this decade.

Mr. Katsav resigned shortly before his presidential term ended in 2007, under a plea bargain that would have required him to admit to lesser charges of sexual misconduct.  He withdrew from the agreement last April so he could stand trial and try to clear his name.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.