Israel's Justice Minister on Rapist ex-President Katsav: Remorse Not Needed for Early Release

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Moshe Katsav outside his home before departing for Ma'asiyahu prison, Dec. 7, 2011.Credit: AFP

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Monday that former President Moshe Katsav does not need to express remorse for his crimes in order to be paroled. Katsav is serving a seven-year prison sentence for rape and other crimes, and will go before a parole board on March 27.

In an interview with the Onlife website, Shaked said she does not intend to intervene in the process. She noted that according to the law, “a confession and remorse are not criteria [for an early release]. They are, of course, taken into account by the committee as part of any prisoner’s capacity for rehabilitation,” she added.

The justice minister refuted allegations that she has interfered in the case. “Personally, I have never been asked to discuss the subject of Katsav and have never opened the file, and have not examined the facts,” she said.

On Sunday, Haaretz reported that Shaked had raised the question of Katsav’s release with President Reuven Rivlin in a meeting between the two a few weeks ago. It seems that Rivlin refused to discuss the matter and made it clear to Shaked that a discussion on a potential pardon was not relevant.

Rivlin’s office issued a statement denying a Channel 10 report over the weekend that he supported Katsav’s release. “The president has not expressed support for pardoning Moshe Katsav,” the statement said. “The president will discuss the issue and formulate a position if and when he is asked to do so, and only after getting all the relevant considerations required to make a decision – as he does with every other pardon request he receives.”

The State Prosecutor’s Office has yet to finalize the position it will present to the board later this month. However, discussions on the issue have reflected the facts that Katsav has not expressed remorse and continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Katsav was convicted of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and the obstruction of justice, and began his jail term in December 2011.

By law, the parole board must also inform the victims of Katsav’s possible early release and give them the opportunity to voice their objections. The opinions of the victims have not yet been submitted.

Shaked also commented on Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich’s recent statement that he will no longer investigate anonymous complaints of sexual harassment within the police force. Shaked said Alsheich is trying to balance the desire to encourage genuine complainants to come forward, while simultaneously eradicating the reprehensible culture that exists of using false complaints to settle scores. A solution such as granting maximal immunity to the complainant during the investigation process is an option, said Shaked.

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