Jerusalem (CNN) -- Moshe Katsav, the former Israeli president, began a seven-year prison sentence on Wednesday for rape and other sexual offenses.
Two days after his 66th birthday, Katsav arrived at the Maasiyahu Prison in Ramla, central Israel, where he will be kept in a cell block for prisoners who are observant Jews.
""The five and a half years of battle come to an end in anger and frustration," Katsav said as he left his home surrounded by well wishers. He insisted the evidence against him was flawed.
The case involved three women -- two in the president's office and one in the tourism ministry. A three judge panel last year found Katsav guilty of two charges of rape, two charges of forceful sexual harassment and one charge of sexual harassment. He was sentenced in in March.
He had agreed in 2007 to plead guilty to lesser charges and pay a fine to avoid jail time, but withdrew from the deal when the moment came to enter his plea.
After the verdict, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was a "sad day" for Israel.
Katsav, of the center-right Likud Party, was president of Israel from 2000 to 2007. He was minister of tourism before that. The charges stem from allegations made against him in both jobs.
As an inmate of the block for religious prisoners, Katsav will not be required to wear a prison uniform.
CNN's Paul Colsey contributed to this report.