katsav - AFP - November 17 2011
Former President Moshe Katsav arriving at the Supreme Court last week. Photo by AFP
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Former president Moshe Katsav, convicted of rape, is unlikely to win a pardon before he goes to jail, despite his efforts and those of his associates to create a buzz in favor of one, say expert jurists.

The sources noted that President Shimon Peres has on principle refused to pardon or commute the sentences of those guilty of grave sex crimes like rape, or to reduce the sentences of public figures convicted of any serious offense.

The president will certainly not consider pardoning sex criminals until they have served a substantial part of their sentences, confessed to their crimes and agreed to undergo rehabilitation, the sources said.

Given that Katsav has yet to start serving his sentence, and has refused to admit to the crimes he was convicted of - two counts of rape and sexual harassment of subordinates - there is little possibility that the justice minister or the president will consider his request for a pardon seriously, the experts said.

In an interview published by Yediot Aharonot yesterday, Katsav dismissed rumors he might consider suicide.

"I didn't commit suicide and I don't intend to commit suicide," Katsav said. "I promised my family to be strong, but even iron that takes the kind of blows I have taken over the past five years ultimately bends.

"I curse the day I was chosen president of Israel," he said. "I'm a wreck."

Katsav also gave an interview to Ma'ariv. While in both interviews he continued to deny he had committed the crimes, for the first time he sounded apologetic.

"I apologize to the plaintiffs against me if I hurt them, but I will continue to fight to prove my innocence," he told Yediot. "My innocence will come to light, even if it's after my death."

To Maariv, he said, "I never hurt anyone, but if there's someone who feels that I hurt her, I apologize."

Katsav's victims were not impressed.

"Don't be deceived by Moshe Katsav and his delusions," said Daniel Sror, the lawyer for A. from the Tourism Ministry, whom Katsav raped. "You get the impression that Moshe Katsav is trying to play on public sympathy as part of a campaign to receive a pardon.

"His words are totally insignificant and will not comfort any of his victims as long has he stubbornly refuses to admit to the serious things he did," Sror added. "How can one apologize for harming one's victims, particularly in sex crimes, without admitting that he hurt them willfully and consciously and taking responsibility for his actions?"

An associate of A. from the President's Residence, the other plaintiff in the case, issued a similar statement.