Judgment Day for ex-president Katsav – will he be released or not?

Katsav entered Ma’asiyahu Prison in December 2011, serving a seven- year sentence for rape and other sexual assault charges.

Former president of Israel Moshe Katsav (photo credit: REUTERS)
Former president of Israel Moshe Katsav
(photo credit: REUTERS)
After nearly five years in prison, former president and convicted rapist Moshe Katsav will learn on Thursday if he will spend another two years in prison or receive an early release.
The Prisons Service parole board will announce its decision regarding Katsav’s release by the afternoon. Katsav entered Ramle’s Ma’asiyahu Prison in December 2011, after he was sentenced to seven years in prison for rape and other sexual assault offenses.
In April, after serving two-thirds of his sentence, Katsav’s request for release was rejected by the parole board. But he appealed the decision and appeared in front of the parole board again last month.
The scale appeared to tilt slightly in his favor for the second hearing, after the prisoner rehabilitation committee switched over to his side. However, the board is not bound by the recommendation of the prisoner rehabilitation committee and the Justice Ministry remains opposed to Katsav’s early release, reportedly even threatening the board with an appeal, should it grant the former president’s request.
The committee may have taken into account that, for the first time since his conviction, Katsav reportedly agreed to enter a rehabilitation program – although he still refuses to express regret for his actions.
In April, 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...
as was manifested in his appearance before us.”
Katsav’s lawyers have argued that the former president is not legally obligated to admit guilt to gain an early release, that the parole board was mistaken in ruling that he still poses a danger of raping women, and that his health has plummeted since his early request was rejected, putting his life in danger.
On the other hand, the State Attorney’s Office has opposed to Katsav’s release since he has not publicly taken responsibility or apologized for his crimes.
Katsav also filed a request earlier this year to President Reuven Rivlin for a pardon, but that process was frozen by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked in mid-June since her ministry will not consider pardons as long as there are pending legal proceedings.