Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav walks towards the entrance to Maasiyahu prison in Ramle, near Tel Aviv, December 7, 2011.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
“It is inconceivable that a professional committee will change its recommendations by 180 degrees without any compelling justification,” Orit Sulitzeanu, director of the Association for Rape Crisis Centers in Israel said late Wednesday night.
She expressed disbelief and outrage following reports that the prisoner rehabilitation committee had changed its previous recommendation and called to grant early release to former president Moshe Katsav.
Katsav has served five years of his seven-year term for rape and other sex-related offenses following his conviction in December 2010.
In April the parole board denied his request for early release, because he had not expressed any remorse or regret or even admitted to committing the crimes.
“The prisoner rehabilitation committee’s decision to abruptly change its stance on the rehabilitation of Katsav and in such a short period of time spanning only a few months raises serious questions,” Sulitzeanu said.
“The question arises who stands behind this decision, who are the members of the public committee who so easily changed their professional opinion, thereby spitting in the face of Katsav’s victims,” she questioned.
Sulitzeanu said that as long as Katsav does not express regret for his actions or apologize to the victims he should not be released from prison.
“Katsav committed serious sexual crimes and did this serially. He still shamelessly denies the offenses of which he was convicted. The rapist Katsav is a man without empathy for his victims and has never agreed to say the simple words: Sorry, I was wrong,” she said.
In light of this, Sulitzeanu called on the parole board to “adhere to its position and under no circumstances reduce his sentence.”
Odelia Carmon, one of Katsav’s victims, who was known as “A” (Alef), also expressed disbelief on hearing news.
In an interview with Army Radio she said, “Suddenly they changed their minds? It interests me to know who they bribed or what extraordinary political pressures they used that suddenly there is a special program for the prisoner Katsav.”
Katsav’s lawyer, Yehoshua Reznik, told Army Radio on Thursday that he “has no doubt as to the effectiveness of rehabilitation.”
“I personally, regardless of Mr.
Katsav, think that rehabilitation under these circumstances, at this age, when there is zero danger – should not be considered by the parole board,” he told Army Radio.
In a triple argument, Katsav’s lawyers have argued that a prisoner is not obligated to admit guilt to gain an early release, that the parole board was mistaken in ruling that their client still poses a danger as a rapist, and that his health has gravely deteriorated since his early request was rejected, putting his life in danger.Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.