Katsav put on suicide watch after losing early parole bid
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Katsav put on suicide watch after losing early parole bid

Former president 'completely broken' by decision; rape victim says he's undeserving of release after showing lack of remorse

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Former president Moshe Katsav walks out of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on November 10, 2011, after the court unanimously upheld the Tel Aviv District Court's rape conviction. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Former president Moshe Katsav walks out of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on November 10, 2011, after the court unanimously upheld the Tel Aviv District Court's rape conviction. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Former president and convicted rapist Moshe Katsav has been placed under closer monitoring in prison over fears he may try to harm himself, hours after a parole board decision earlier Thursday denied him early release.

Katsav will have a guard monitoring him 24 hours a day for an undisclosed period of time, the Israel Prisons Service said.

Earlier in the day, the Israel Prisons Service Parole Board rejected a plea for his early release after a two-hour deliberation. It was the second such rejection this year.

He was also placed on suicide watch after the first rejection, in April.

The board ruled Thursday that the 70-year-old former president will be eligible to file a new request for commutation after he completes six months of in-prison rehabilitation.

Katsav said in a statement that he has “the impression that until people see my blood-covered body strewn in the street, they will not let up.

“I am exhausted and completely broken. I’ve agreed to all the conditions and all the restrictions imposed on me. There’s not been a rehabilitation program in prison I have objected to. I do not know how to pick up the pieces,” he said.

Katsav’s victim, whose accusations led to his being convicted on two counts of rape and one count of sexual assault, said she was satisfied with the board’s decision.

“A sex offender who committed his crimes against many women, and who cannot express regret and internalize the severity [of his crimes] should not be entitled to any relief from his punishment,” she told Channel 2.

Tzion Amir, attorney of former Israeli president Moshe Katsav on August 4, 2016. (Roy Alima/Flash90)
Zion Amir, attorney of former Israeli president Moshe Katsav, on August 4, 2016 (Roy Alima/Flash90)

In its unanimous decision, the board acknowledged that it had observed “seeds” of repentance in Katsav, who has throughout his incarceration professed his innocence.

An internal prison evaluation presented to the board said that “our impression was that there are initial signs of understanding of his personality flaws, which led him to take advantage of others, harm them, and use his power while serving in a role of power and authority. In our view, this marks a change — even if minimal — from our earlier assessments.”

The prison evaluation quoted Katsav as saying: “I no longer want to prove my innocence, I have no strength to wage a campaign… I’m not waging a campaign… I’m tired, I have no strength for anything.”

The parole board wrote that based on the evaluation and Katsav’s testimony, “those first seeds [of change] were seen” by members of the board.

“However, in the opinion of the parole board, the prisoner’s process [of repentance] has not been completed and he still needs to refine and deepen this [awareness],” the decision said.

Zion Amir, Katsav’s attorney, told reporters outside the prison that it was a “very hard day, a very sad day,” and vowed to appeal the decision.

Amir blamed activists, including female Knesset members, for the parole board decision, suggesting the lawmakers intervened to prevent the ex-president’s release.

Katsav has served five years of a seven-year sentence, and in recent months has been seeking to have his jail time reduced by one-third for good behavior.

Katsav was denied parole in April after the rehabilitation authority and state prosecutors recommended against it. At the time, the Prisoner Rehabilitation Authority told the parole board Katsav had not acknowledged or expressed remorse for his crimes, showed no empathy for his victims, and saw himself as the victim in the case, while state prosecutors noted Katsav had not participated in any rehabilitative programs offered by the prison.

Diverging from its stance on Katsav’s previous request for commutation, this time the Prisoner Rehabilitation Authority and State Attorney’s Office did not oppose the early release of the ex-president.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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