Israel's Disgraced Former President Katsav Heads to Parole Board Again

Moshe Katzav is five years into his seven year sentence for sexual crimes, including rape, and has been rejected twice already for failing to show remorse.

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

Israel’s parole board will meet Sunday to discuss the early release of former President Moshe Katsav from prison, where he is serving a seven-year sentence for sexual offenses, including rape.

The State Prosecutor’s Office will again oppose any early release. Katsav has served five years of his sentence, having been jailed in May 2011.

The parole board rejected Katsav’s request for early release in August, after he had served two-thirds of his sentence. The board said then it would hold another hearing six months later.

Prosecutors say Katsav has made no real change since the previous hearing to justify the new request being granted.

They also feel the treatment and rehabilitation he is undergoing is not significant enough, and that therefore he should remain behind bars.

In addition, prosecutors say Katsav’s victims must also be taken into account, along with the risk of their suffering harm in light of Katsav’s repeated denials of having committed any crime throughout the investigation and legal process.

If Katsav’s request is denied again, the next hearing will be held automatically when Katsav has served half of his remaining sentence. By this time, the prosecution may be willing to soften its stance against his early release.

At the August hearing, the board left in force a decision from April not to cut the former president’s prison term. This was taken despite a recommendation from a rehabilitation committee that an inmate can be freed even without admitting guilt or expressing remorse for his actions.

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.” The members found there was no reason to grant Katsav’s request for parole.

Katsav’s lawyers expressed their disappointment at that decision, noting, “All the relevant professionals have already conveyed their clear opinions that former President Katsav ought to be released.”

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