Parole Board to Rule on Early Release for Disgraced ex-Israeli President Next Week

Prosecutors object to paroling Katsav, who has served five of his seven-year sentence for rape.

Former President Moshe Katsav on a prison furlough in 2015.
Nir Kedar

The parole board met on Sunday and discussed the request for early release of former president Moshe Katsav from prison, where he is serving a seven year sentence for rape. The parole board said it will announce its decision next week.

The State Prosecutor's Office again opposes an early release. Katsav has served five years of his sentence, having been imprisoned in May 2011.

Prosecutors say Katsav has undergone no real change since the previous hearing to justify granting the request. They also feel the treatment and rehabilitation he is undergoing is not significant enough and therefore he does not deserve parole and should remain behind bars.

In addition, prosecutors say Katsav’s victims must also be taken into consideration, and the risk of their suffering harm in light of Katsav’s repeated public denials of having committed any crime.

The board rejected Katsav's request in August, when he had completed serving two thirds of his sentence.  The board said at the time it would hold another hearing half a year later.

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

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.”

If Katsav's request is denied again, the next hearing would take place after Katsav would have served half of the last third of his sentence. The prosecution may then be more amenable to granting him parole.  

Katsav’s lawyers said before Sunday's hearing that despite prosecutors' opinions, "all relevant professionals have already conveyed their clear opinions that former President Katsav ought to be released.” 

The lawyers hoped the board would give greater weight to the views of the social service professionals and psychologists. They said Katsav was “optimistic and hopeful for his release and return to his family."