An Israeli parole boarded decided on Thursday against granting a request for an early prison release for former president Moshe Katsav who has served about four and a half years of a seven year term for rape and other sexual offenses.
The board said it was denying Katsav, 70, early release after finding "there has been no change in his positions about the sexual offenses for which he was convicted."
Prosecutors had objected to cutting Katsav's sentence citing his failure to undergo rehabilitation while behind bars. Katsav has never voiced remorse and continues to deny having committed any of the offenses for which he has been convicted.
Katsav's lawyers said the decision was "mistaken" and that they would appeal it.
The parole panel has recently met twice to discuss Katsav’s request to commute his sentence, after the Lod District Court urged them to reconsider a previous rejection of parole for the former president.
In rejecting early release for Katsav in April, the parole board said, “The prisoner still sees himself as a victim, is preoccupied with blaming others for his situation, still conducts himself aggressively and is preoccupied only with himself, his needs, his losses and with the price he and his family paid.”
Katsav's lawyer Shani Ilouz said after the parole board spoke:
"This is a mistaken decision that is unacceptable, also for other prisoners. We think there was no room to give such weight for his lack of admission or expression of regret, and therefore we shall appeal."
Gila Ashrat, chairwoman of WIZO Israel, welcomed the decision, saying "it was inconceivable" for Katsav to have won an early release without first apologizing to his victims.
Orit Sulitzeanu, director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, said that a decision to free Katsav would have "had tough repercussions not only for the women he assaulted, but for other rape victims across the country."
Israel Radio's legal commentator Moshe Negbi said Katsav's release might also have put his victims at risk for harassment, particularly since he continues to insist upon his innocence.
In related developments, the parole board granted requests to commute the sentence of Etti Alon, a former banker convicted of embezzlement. The board also had plans to discuss shortening the sentence of former judge Dan Cohen, who was convicted of taking a bribe.
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