Former president of Israel Moshe Katsav.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In another major surprise in the endless saga, Moshe Katsav will get an additional shot at an early release as the Lod District Court on Tuesday ordered the parole board to review the former president’s request again.
The order, which gave new life to his attempt to get out of jail after serving two-thirds of a seven-year sentence for rape, comes in light of a new prisoner rehabilitation committee opinion to be submitted regarding his condition.
However, the court emphasized that its decision was based solely on wanting the parole board to have decided based on all of the relevant and most-updated information and that the board was free to accept or reject his request again as it sees fit.
Still, the state prosecution had opposed sending the issue back to the parole board, arguing that it had made its decision with a prior opinion in hand from the same committee and that even the new opinion could not change the result.
The new opinion was also unusual as it came in the context of the committee saying it is issuing several new opinions in a new approach to complex cases.
The former president was convicted of two counts of rape, one count of committing an indecent act using force, one count of committing an indecent act, two counts of sexual harassment, one count of harassing a witness and one count of obstructing justice.
He entered Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle in December 2011.
Katsav’s request for an early release was initially rejected by the parole board in April, leading to his appeal to the Lod District Court.
When the parole board rejected his early release request, it wrote, “Before us is a prisoner who denies that he committed the crimes, who continues to claim his innocence despite the court decisions... which was manifested in his appearance before us.”
His lawyers have argued that Katsav is not obligated to admit guilt to gain an early release, that the parole board was mistaken in ruling that he still posed a danger of raping women and that his health has plummeted since his early request was rejected, putting his life in danger.
In parallel, Katsav had filed a request to President Reuven Rivlin for a pardon, but that process was frozen by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked in mid- June since her ministry will not consider pardons as long as there are still pending legal proceedings.