Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has recommended that President Shimon Peres not grant parole to former president Moshe Katsav, who was convicted of two counts of rape and other sexual crimes against women employees of his office, and is now serving a seven-year prison sentence.
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Accepting the position of the Justice Ministry’s Parole Board, Livni submitted her recommendation on Tuesday to Peres, who has the power to pardon or offer early parole to prisoners.
Officials in Livni’s bureau say that despite the suffering of Katsav’s family, which was described in the request for parole, Livni took into account the severity, nature and number of the crimes of which he was convicted, his misuse of power and his betrayal of the public’s trust.
The statement issued by her bureau said that her decision also took into account the women “whose honor he trampled and whose bodies and souls he desecrated while misusing his power and authority as an elected public official.”
In addition, Livni mentioned the fact that Katsav had never expressed remorse for his actions and said that commuting would send the wrong message.
In her letter to Peres, Livni wrote that “the request submitted by his family describes the suffering that he and his family have endured since the story became known, including the accompanying publicity and public condemnation. I do not take the Katsav family’s suffering lightly, but it is not sufficient to justify parole.” Livni added, “Parole is not the appeal of a court decision. In considering the sentence, the Supreme Court already took into account the same reasons on which the request for parole is based.”
Katsav's insistence on his innocence and refusal to express any regret for his actions factored into the decision, Livni said.
“I also took into account that throughout the trial, Mr. Katsav never expressed any remorse for his actions, and has evidently never internalized the severity and wrongness of his actions," Livni wrote. "Under these circumstances, granting him parole is like accepting the claim that he is innocent and was falsely accused, and that he is the victim of the legal system.”
Katsav began serving his sentence in December 2011. Just 10 months later, he asked the court for parole. The request was submitted to Peres and to the Justice Ministry, where it was examined according to the formal procedure set down by law. Katsav’s request for parole is based mainly on his assertion that he did not receive a fair trial from the first moment he was investigated for the crimes of which he was accused. Katsav claims in his request that because he was the president of the country, the trial received a great deal of media attention and stayed in the headlines throughout the investigation and the trial.
In addition, Katsav claims that the media coverage, which lasted from the start of the investigation and continued throughout the trial, was biased and did not allow him to conduct a fair trial, since he was never presumed innocent. He also stated that his resignation from the presidency, trial and imprisonment damaged his status and dignity, and through that, he has already been punished.
However, even Katsav himself, as a man who once received many requests for parole when he was president, presumably knows that his chances are slim, mainly because prisoners may receive parole only after having confessed to their crimes and expressed remorse. In the case of sexual offenses, the prisoner must also undergo rehabilitation.