Disgraced Ex-president Katsav’s Early Release to Be Reviewed Again

The former president, who is serving time for rape and other offenses, has never admitted to his offenses or expressed remorse for his actions.

Former president Moshe Katsav leaves prison for a holiday break in 2015.
Nir Keidar

The Israel Prison Service parole board on Wednesday will once again discuss whether to commute the sentence of former President Moshe Katsav, who is serving seven years for rape and other offenses.

The new hearing is being conducted after the Lod District Court ordered the parole board reconvene following a new opinion submitted by the Prisoner Rehabilitation Authority, which now supports his release. Katsav is seeking to have his seven-year sentence reduced by a third for good behavior.

In April, the parole board rejected Katsav’s bid for early release and unanimously decided that he should complete his seven-year jail term because he never admitted to his offenses or expressed remorse for his actions. Until now, admission and accepting responsibility for the crimes were conditions for parole.

But a policy change in prisoner rehabilitation techniques could mean that Katsav may get out early after all. The rehabilitation authority is now proposing that Katsav undergo a rehabilitation program provided outside prison. Based on this change in rehabilitation policy, Katsav’s lawyer Shani Illouz has said the ex-president could be out in two to three months.

The state prosecution, however, will continue to oppose his release. The objection is based, inter alia, on the prosecution’s policy regarding the early release of sex offenders who are not in a rehabilitation program.

They compare Katsav’s case to that of Ataf Zahar, a former army colonel who was sentenced to six years for rape and other sexual offenses but was released after four years.  A petition against Zahar’s early release was accepted by the High Court of Justice in 2012.

In the ruling Justice Hanan Melcer wrote, “A serial sex offender who does not internalize the criminality and seriousness of his actions, who doesn’t understand the tragedy he inflicted on the victim, who doesn’t express remorse or think that he needs to change his ways is not the type of prisoner that should be released early, unless he has some weighty mitigating merits to his credit.”

Prosecutors do not believe that there are such mitigating circumstances in Katsav’s case.