Katsav decides to appeal court's rejection of commuted sentence term

Katsav had asked to be released early after having served approximately two-thirds of a seven-year sentence for rape.

Former president of Israel Moshe Katsav (photo credit: REUTERS)
Former president of Israel Moshe Katsav
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former president Moshe Katsav on Thursday changed his mind for the second time in five days, this time deciding to appeal a parole board decision against him getting an early release from his seven-year prison sentence for rape.
His appeal request is to be released after having served approximately two-thirds of the sentence, overruling the parole board’s April 6 decision that he remain behind bars.
On Sunday, despite having agreed with his lawyers to submit an appeal that they had already prepared, the former president surprised them when he changed his mind and suddenly told them to scrap the effort.
But by Monday morning, Katsav’s lawyer Zion Amir had filed a motion to extend the time for him to appeal the parole board’s decision until Thursday.
With remarkable bluntness, Amir wrote the court that he needed the time to change Katsav’s mind to get him back on board with his own appeal.
Amir explained that Katsav had surprised him and asked him not to file the appeal, saying he was unable to deal with another media circus surrounding the appeal and having lost hope that he can succeed.
There have also been reports that Katsav’s family opposed the appeal, believing that it is a distraction from his separate request to President Reuven Rivlin for his sentence to be commuted.
The Lod District Court on Monday approved Amir’s request for an extension to file the appeal within hours of its filing.
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.
Simultaneously and separate from any effort within the courts, Katsav has filed a request to Rivlin to commute his sentence.
Numerous rumors that Rivlin would commute the sentence have arisen periodically over the past two months, with Rivlin quashing them each time, saying only that Katsav’s request would be considered like any other prisoner’s request.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has been more in Katsav’s court or at least neutral whereas her predecessor, Tzipi Livni, was vehemently opposed to any early release for the former president.
The parole board rejected his early release request writing, “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.”
The focus of the appeal was expected to be that Katsav is not obligated to admit guilt to gain an early release and that the parole board was mistaken in ruling that he still posed a danger of raping women.