Prosecutors Expected to Oppose Early Prison Release for Israeli Rapist Ex-president

A parole board will discuss Katsav’s request for early release four months after rejecting a previous request to free him after serving two thirds of a seven-year sentence.

Former President Moshe Katsav en route home during his Passover leave, in 2015.
Nir Keidar

Prosecutors can be expected to oppose an early release of former president Moshe Katsav from prison, when a parole board hears the case again on Sunday.

The board rejected a request in August by Katsav to be released after his having served two thirds of a seven year prison term for rape.  The board also pledged at the time to hold another hearing a half year later.

Prosecutors feel there are no changes to justify granting Katsav’s request. They also feel the treatment he is undergoing is not significant enough and therefore he should remain behind bars.

In addition to weighing the state’s position, Katsav’s victims must also be taken into consideration, and the risk of them being harmed in light of Katsav’s repeated public denials of having committed any crime.

At the hearing in August, the board left a decision from April not to cut the former president’s prison term, taken despite a recommendation from a rehabilitation committee that an inmate may be freed even without admitting guilt or expressing regrets.

Parole board members wrote at the time “there has been no change in his status with regard to the sex crimes for which he was convicted.”

They added that they discerned “initial sparks of understanding of the flaws in his character that led him to exploit others, hurt them and utilize his enormous power while serving in positions of authority.”

“In our view, this is a change – even if a slight one – from our previous assessment.”

Board members found that therefore there was no reason to grant Katsav’s  request.

Katsav’s lawyers said in response: “I suggest we wait to hear the prosecutors’ official response to the board. Even if the prosecutors oppose his release,  all the relevant professionals have already conveyed their clear opinions that former president Katsav ought to be released” and that they hope greater weight will be given to their view.

The lawyers added that Katsav was “optimistic and hopeful for his release and return to his family.”