Former president of Israel Moshe Katsav.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A key committee will recommend to the parole board on July 20 that it grant disgraced former president Moshe Katsav an early release, Channel 2 reported Wednesday.
The board is not bound by the recommendation of the prisoner rehabilitation committee, and the Justice Ministry is expected to stick to its opposition to Katsav’s early release. Moreover, the committee’s reasons for now supporting the former president’s request – which it previously opposed – remain unclear. That reasoning may make a key difference in the early release decision.
If the reason is concern over the deterioration in Katsav’s health and mental condition, the board may be more likely to second-guess the committee. But if the committee is changing its general position to one favoring prisoners being granted an early release notwithstanding that they have not expressed remorse, the board may need to wrestle more with the issue. Katsav has never expressed remorse for the harm he caused in raping and sexually molesting several women.
In the event that the committee has changed its basic position on when expressing regret is necessary, The Jerusalem Post has learned that the Justice Ministry is likely to seek clarifications to justify such a change – which the committee has not provided to date.
Katsav got a helpful shot in the arm on July 5 when the Lod District Court ordered the parole board to review his early release request for a second time.
That initial request was rejected in April.
The order, which revived to Katsav’s hope to get out of jail after serving twothirds of his seven-year sentence for rape, came in light of what was already forecast as a new prisoner rehabilitation committee opinion which could involve a change of position, to be submitted regarding the former president’s condition.
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However, the Lod court emphasized that its decision was based solely on wanting the parole board to have made a decision based on all the relevant information, and that the board was free to accept or reject Katsav’s request as it saw fit.
Still, the state prosecution 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 new opinions regarding 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 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.”
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.
In tandem, Katsav filed a pardon request to President Reuven Rivlin. That process was frozen by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked in mid-June since her ministry will not consider granting a pardon when legal proceedings are pending.
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