Former president of Israel Moshe Katsav.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
President Reuven Rivlin will have to make one of the most crucial decisions in his presidency to date - which is whether or not to respond favorably to a request for clemency from former President Moshe Katsav who is serving a seven year sentence for rape and other sex offenses.
Following initial publication in Yediot Aharonot on Sunday to that effect, Rivlin’s office was inundated with requests from the media who wanted an immediate yes or no answer.
A statement issued from the President’s Office indicated that no formal request has yet been received, and that if and when it does arrive, the president will give it the same consideration as he gives all such requests in full consultation with the relevant authorities.
According to the report in Yediot Aharonot
, Katsav’s friends and family claim that the former president is suffering from acute depression, and that his condition deteriorated after the prison parole board refused to grant him a reduction of sentence.
The report was accompanied by a previously published photograph of Katsav leaving Massiyahu prison with his wife Gila on the eve of Passover to spend Seder with his family in Kiryat Malachi.
Katsav has never admitted to the charges against him, and has consistently stated that he is not guilty, and therefore has no reason to express remorse.
The question of clemency or a full pardon for Katsav arose during the presidency of Shimon Peres, who said that he would never accede to a request from a sex offender.
Reports that Rivlin might pardon Katsav surfaced in March this year, at which time spokespeople for the president said that Rivlin had never expressed support for Katsav’s early release from prison, but added that if a request was received Rivlin would review it and weigh all the facts in the case with the relevant authorities from the Ministry of Justice before making a decision.
Sunday's report of a new clemency request came after the former president was denied early parole
on April 6.
Katsav was convicted in December 2010 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 near Ramle in December 2011.
One of Katsav’s two lawyers, Zion Amir, told the press after the parole board’s denial in early April that he would appeal the decision.
Katsav has two chances to appeal. First, he can appeal to the Lod District Court, and if he loses that, he can appeal again to the Supreme Court.Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.