Former President Katsav Could Be Released Next Week

Parole board to reconsider ex-president's request to commute his sentence by a third following the announcement of a new rehabilitation policy.

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

Former President Moshe Katsav, who was convicted of rape, could be released from prison next week, pending the approval of a parole board at a hearing set for July 20. Katsav's case was sent back to the parole board after the announcing of a new policy allowing a convict to undergo rehabilitation without expressing remorse.

Katsav, Israel’s eighth president, was convicted in 2010 of rape, commission of an indecent act by force, sexual harassment and obstruction of justice, but he never admitted to the offenses or expressed remorse.

Last week, the court sent Katsav's appeal against the refusal to commute his sentence by a third back to the parole board, after the Prisoners' Rehabilitation Authority announced a change in its policy. The Authority said it will reexamine "complex and sensitive cases," including that of the former president, adding that it could possibly provide a new opinion concerning Katsav's prospects for rehabilitation.

This means that Katsav may get out early after all, even without admitting any wrongdoing, which bars him from parole under the existing rules.

In April, the parole board rejected Katsav’s bid for early release and unanimously decided that he should complete his seven-year jail term. 

Admission and accepting responsibility for the crimes are preconditions for parole. However, new winds in criminology argue in favor of rehabilitating prisoners who deny wrongdoing as well. And thus, the Rehabilitation Authority is now proposing to suggest Katsav undergo a rehabilitation program provided outside prison, without admitting to a thing.

Based on the change in rehabilitation policy, Katsav’s lawyer Shani Illouz said that the authority’s willingness to prepare a plan for the ex-president voids all the grounds cited by the parole board for its refusal to release him.