The Nazareth District Court canceled the decision by the Parole Board to grant convicted sexual offender Alon Kastiel an early release from prison.
According to the judges, the board’s failure to allow all of Kastiel’s victims to testify undermined the early release decision.
“This is not a technical issue, but a substantive one,” said the court on Tuesday, criticizing the Board for failing to postpone its hearing so as to hear all of the victims.
The Association for Supporting Sexual Assault Victims responded by praising the decision “for recognizing the importance of hearing women’s voices.”
Patrol Board's history
The court reached its decision after the prosecution appealed the Board granting of an early release last month after four years of prison, which would have been nine months early.
Kastiel had been convicted of sexual offenses against four women, but only one spoke to the Board when it changed the date of its hearing at the last minute.
The decision on Kastiel’s release passed with a majority vote, including judges Erica Priel, Tina Gantus and Oren Harzman, with Tal Gidoni, a social worker, voting against.
Gidoni had argued that the Board should wait until all the women Kastiel assaulted had voiced their position on an early release.
Priel had said that the Board did not ignore Kastiel’s victims and was aware of their pain and suffering, but that his prior clean record, rehabilitation efforts, and the social principle of reintegration into society meant that the victims’ positions would not be decisive anyway.
However, the court said that the Board could not decide without giving all of the victims a chance to be heard.
Kastiel was initially indicted for even more severe crimes, but was eventually convicted for sexual assault offenses.
The verdict hearing was aired live as part of the judiciary’s recently expanded pilot program for greater transparency, including some district court hearings, whereas until now only Supreme Court hearings had been carried live.