Benizri - Tomer Appelbaum - 18072011
Former Minister Benizri. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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Former Minister and current prison inmate Shlomo Benizri has been asked by senior Israel Prisons Service officials to help former President Moshe Katsav to become accustomed to life in jail − if the latter begins his sentence soon.

Benizri, who was jailed in 2009 for four years for bribery and other offenses, and is serving his time in the wing for Orthodox prisoners at Ma’asiyahu Prison, was approached a few weeks ago about assisting Katsav.

If Katsav’s appeal to the Supreme Court is rejected, he will begin serving a seven-year sentence for rape and other sex-related offenses. Katsav, who was convicted in December 2010 and sentenced in March 2011, would also be incarcerated at Ma’asiyahu and is expected to be placed in the wing for Orthodox prisoners.

Prison officials consider Benizri to be widely admired by the Orthodox prisoners with whom he studies Torah every day, and they believe therefore that he could help see to it that Katsav’s first few weeks pass relatively smoothly.

The Prisons Service is well aware that jailing the former president is a sensitive matter, and that Katsav could face humiliation during his first weeks in prison as a result of which he might even attempt suicide.

The Prisons Service would like to see men close to Benizri surrounding Katsav all day, at least in the initial period of his incarceration, so that he will not be able to attempt to take his own life.

Furthermore, the Prisons Service has made several changes to the cell Katsav is expected to occupy in an effort to closely monitor his safety and security. The cell has been fitted with cameras and the prisoner’s toilet and shower will be only partially obscured so that guards can keep a better watch over him.