State Expected to Oppose Katsav Request to Put Off Jail Time for Rape Conviction

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein meets with senior officials to debate whether Katsav deserves an exemption from the general policy regarding convicted criminals who appeal their sentence.

The State Prosecutor's Office is expected to tell the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it opposes granting former President Moshe Katsav's request to delay the start of his seven-year prison sentence until the court rules on his appeal.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein met with senior officials in the prosecutor's office Sunday to discuss Katsav's request.

Moshe Katsav - AP - 22.3.2011

After the meeting, knowledgeable sources said those present expressed a clear preference for rejecting Katsav's request, mainly to conform to the prosecution's general policy regarding convicted criminals who appeal their sentence.

The sources also said, however, that the prosecution was likely to agree to Katsav's request to hear his appeal as soon as possible.

Katsav, who was convicted of rape and other offenses in December, was supposed to begin his jail time Monday. Last week the court agreed that he could remain free until Wednesday's hearing of his application to delay his sentence.

An expanded Supreme Court panel ruled a decade ago that a convict's sentence should not be delayed for the duration of the appeals process except in special circumstances, such as when the sentence is so brief that all or most of it will have been served before the appeal is decided.

That is not the case for Katsav, whose appeal is expected to be decided within a few months.

Arguments in favor of granting Katsav's request were also entertained at Sunday's meeting, including the view that Katsav does not pose a threat to the public and the fact that he is a former president.

If his appeal is granted while he is serving his sentence, it could be seen as damaging the office of the presidency.

A figure who is close to Katsav said Sunday it was regrettable that the prosecution did not hold a meaningful dialogue with his lawyers, in a bid to make Wednesday's court session unnecessary.