Former president of Israel Moshe Katsav.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Moshe Katsav returned to the parole board on Wednesday for a second time to seek an early release from prison.
Various reports indicated that the ex-president has agreed for the first time to enter a rehabilitation program, even as he has steadfastly refused to express regret.
Katsav did not issue a statement after several hours of hearings. A decision is expected to be handed down on July 31.
The board is not bound by the recommendation of the prisoner rehabilitation committee, and the Justice Ministry stuck to its opposition to the early release, reportedly even threatening the board with an appeal should it grant Katsav’s request.
The committee’s reasons for changing its position from opposing his request to now supporting it are unclear, and it may make a difference: if it is just a deterioration in Katsav’s condition, the board may be more willing to accept the committee’s recommendation; but if the rehabilitation committee is now changing its general position to allow prisoners to receive an early release even without expressing regret, then the board may need to wrestle more with the issue.
The Jerusalem Post
has learned that the Justice Ministry is likely to seek clarifications to justify such a change.
Katsav received 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 his request in April. The order gave new life to his attempt to get out of jail after serving two-thirds of a seven-year sentence. 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.
When the parole board rejected his early release request 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.”
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, as her ministry will not consider pardons as long as there are still pending legal proceedings.