Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Female MKs from the opposition came out strongly Saturday night against reports that former president Moshe Katsav, who is in prison for rape and other sex-related offenses, could be released from prison later this month.
Katsav is due to appear before a parole board at the end of the month. According to a report from Channel 10, if the former president is not granted parole, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked plans to recommend that President Reuven Rivlin commute his sentence and grant him an early release. Rivlin supports the plan, the report stated.
Katsav was due to serve seven years in prison following his conviction in December 2010.
Shaked’s office said she is not dealing with the issue, as no request for a pardon was submitted, and that the parole board will discuss Katsav’s sentence.
Sources within the president’s office say Rivlin has never publicly expressed an opinion as to whether or not he would pardon Katsav.
If and when there is a request it will be treated as any other request for a pardon, with the president deferring to the Justice Ministry and possibly acting on its advice.
Former justice minister MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) said she already withstood the Katsav test and refused to pardon him when a request was submitted during her tenure.
“I told the president then, after receiving the parole board’s recommendation, that I oppose a pardon, as I did with other sex offenders who aren’t as well-known,” she said. “It’s one of the decisions that I was most certain about, and still am.”
MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union) came out against the idea of pardoning Katsav, though a pardon was not part of the report.
“Katsav is a serial sex offender, a violent psychopath who harmed a massive number of women,” she wrote on Facebook. “Katsav never expressed a bit of regret for his actions. Katsav lied throughout his trials and continued to lie even after he was proven to have lied.
“Releasing Katsav at this point will send a terrible message to the victims and destroy the impressive progress reached, because there is equality before the law and there is no reason that Katsav should get a celebrity discount on his sentence,” she added.
Meretz MKs Zehava Gal-On, Tamar Zandberg and Michal Rosin called for Shaked not to circumvent whatever decision the parole board makes.
“The professional board, led by a judge, is given authority in order to prevent a situation in which politicians circumvent a court’s decision.
It cannot be politicians from Moshe Katsav’s side of politics can make decisions about him,” they said in a joint statement.
The MKs added that the parole board should take into consideration the message it would send by releasing the former president, who “did not express remorse nor did he take responsibility for his actions,” and encouraged it to “send a deterrent message about taking advantage of authority to harm women.”
Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, whose purview includes gender equality, declined to comment.
Former president Shimon Peres was asked in the past about the possibility of pardoning Katsav, and he responded that he would never pardon someone convicted of rape.
Ariel Zilber and Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.