Katsav to Begin 7-year Prison Term for Rape Tomorrow

Prison service denies his request to enter jail through side door.

Former President Moshe Katsav will start serving his seven-year sentence for rape tomorrow at Maasiyahu Prison, where he will be placed in the religious prisoners wing.

He will leave his hometown in Kiryat Malachi accompanied by his family, and is expected at the Ramle prison by 10 A.M.

katsav - Ilan Assayag - December 6 2011
Ilan Assayag

The Israel Prison Service is not allowing him to enter the prison through a side entrance or through the staff offices; he will enter through the front gate, like any other prisoner.

The Prison Service does not regard Katsav as a suicide risk, and thus he will not be assigned to the special room known as "the submarine," where prisoners who are thought to pose a danger to themselves are placed.

The Knesset subcommittee on public security matters will hold a closed meeting today to discuss the request by Katsav's family for him to serve his sentence at home, rather than in Maasiyahu, because they believe his life is at risk in prison.

Knesset sources said that even if the panel accepts the request, it will not be able to implement it because Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch opposes the move.

One reason the family gave for its request was that Katsav might be asked by cell mates about classified security information which he had been privy to. The Prison Service dismissed this, saying the experience with the imprisonment of former ministers Aryeh Deri and Abraham Hirchson showed that sensitive information is not leaked in prison.

The Prison Service also dismissed the suggestion that Katsav might be subject to revenge attacks by inmates who were not granted the pardons they had requested while Katsav was president. Prison service officials said that prisoners are well aware that the president has little say over pardon requests, which are processed by the Justice Ministry.

Today, the Ministerial Committee on Ceremonies and Symbols will discuss decisions made by the cabinet about the status and commemoration of senior officials who were convicted of crimes.

Katsav will likely lose the ceremonial rights due him by virtue of his term as president, among them a state funeral and burial in the area on Mount Herzl reserved for the "greats of the nation."

He has already lost his payments for a car, driver, aides and an office, though he will continue to receive a pension equivalent to 70% of his presidential salary.