Former president of Israel Moshe Katsav.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Parole Board decided Sunday that it will make its final determination in seven days about former president Moshe Katsav’s latest request for an early release from his seven-year sentence for rape.
The key issue remains his failure to express regret and whether it can be argued that he has undergone some rehabilitation in spite of that.
Katsav 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.
Sunday’s hearing was the third time Katsav has sought an early release, and comes with a seeming steady stream of factors moving in his direction and some reports that he will be released in six months – after he has served five-and-a-half years.
The board rejected his previous requests in April and August, but social workers from the prisoner rehabilitation committee switched to taking his side in August.
Reports indicate that he has undergone an individualized rehabilitation process which might have weakened opposition to his release, even as he forgoes standard group rehabilitation.
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Katsav had already gotten a helpful shot in the arm on July 5, when the Lod District Court ordered the Parole Board to review his early release request a second time after it had rejected it in April.
The order, which gave new life to his attempt to get out of jail after serving two-thirds of his sentence, came in light of the prisoner rehabilitation committee opinion in his favor. These events were not enough to gain his release at the time, but reports indicate that the momentum has steadily shifted toward some kind of early release.
When the Parole Board rejected his early release request in a detailed opinion in April, 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 previously 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 pending legal proceedings.
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