Former president of Israel Moshe Katsav.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
President Reuven Rivlin’s spokesperson confirmed on Sunday that a request had been submitted for a third of former president Moshe Katsav’s seven-year prison sentence to be commuted.
Katsav’s lawyer Zion Amir, interviewed on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet, said that the request had been signed by Katsav himself.
The question of clemency for Katsav, who was convicted of rape and other sexual offenses, has sparked considerable debate.
Those in favor of clemency say that Katsav is a broken man whose image has been indelibly tainted.
They say that his fall from grace coupled with the time that he has already spent in prison is punishment enough for a man who for six years was Israel’s No. 1 citizen.
Katsav, according to his supporters, has been a model prisoner and has suffered enough, especially as he is undergoing severe depression.
On the other hand, Katsav’s detractors, who would like to see him spend the rest of his life in prison, talk about the trauma experienced by his victims who aren’t getting any time off for good behavior.
The victims must continue living with their tortured memories, they argue.
Rumors that circulated through the media to the effect that Rivlin was in favor of pardoning Katsav were strenuously denied by members of the President’s Office who said that Rivlin would consider any appeal of this nature in the same way that he considers all appeals, by examining all the factors involved and consulting with experts in the Justice Ministry.
The fact that Katsav was permitted to go to his home in Kiryat Gat for the first three days of Passover, even though he was not eligible for a furlough at this time, fueled further speculation that Rivlin would deal leniently with him.
However, Rivlin has not said anything to indicate that there is any substance to such speculation.
Responding to Katsav’s request, Galia Woloch, chairwoman of the Na’amat women’s Zionist organization, announced that she would ask Rivlin and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to deny it.
Katsav is using every means at his disposal in an attempt to cut short the sentence that was decided by the court, she said, despite the fact that he has never once accepted responsibility or apologized for his actions.
Woloch declared that Rivlin, of all people, who is so attentive to the sensitivities of the public, must understand that the institution of the presidency which he heads was greatly harmed by Katsav.
Woloch regards the request for clemency as an act of outrageous impudence in that it places Rivlin in a most uncomfortable position.
If Katsav is so keen to make an early departure from prison, she said, let him submit another request to the prison parole board, but not before he thinks carefully and expresses remorse for what he has done.