Ex-president Katsav wins early release after 5 years in prison
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Ex-president Katsav wins early release after 5 years in prison

Convicted rapist set to be freed, but discharge will be delayed a week at state prosecutor’s request

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Former president Moshe Katsav walks out of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem in November 2011. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Former president Moshe Katsav walks out of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem in November 2011. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Former president and convicted rapist Moshe Katsav will be freed from prison early after serving five years of a seven-year jail sentence, Israel Prisons Service Parole Board ruled Sunday.

“We have come to the conclusion that the time has come to order the prisoner’s release,” the ruling, which accepted Katsav’s request for early release, read.

The ruling came after Katsav, convicted of rape and other sexual offenses in 2010, was rejected twice for failing to acknowledge his acts or express any regret. The parole board said he has now taken several steps that indicate remorse for his actions.

Appearing before the parole board last week, Katsav admitted that he acted “inappropriately” towards women who have made claims against him, according Israel Radio. He reportedly broke down in tears saying that he needed to change his behavior.

Former president Moshe Katsav, left, serving a seven-year sentence for rape, seen with his wife, Gila, leaving Ma'asiyahu Prison for a furlough over the Jewish holiday of Passover, April 3, 2015. (Flash90)
Former president Moshe Katsav, left, serving a seven-year sentence for rape, seen with his wife, Gila, leaving Ma’asiyahu Prison for a furlough over the Jewish holiday of Passover, April 3, 2015. (Flash90)

Having served more than two-thirds of his prison term at Ma’asiyahu, Katsav was eligible for immediate parole, but a statement from the courts said his release would be delayed for seven days in order for the state to “consider the position.”

The delayed release, a spokesperson told The Times of Israel, could suggest the state is looking into ways to overturn the ruling.

Upon his release, Katsav will be subject to some restrictions, such as checking in with a parole officer, continuing to attend a rehabilitation program and therapy session, and a ban on speaking to the media.

The state prosecution has said that despite the first glimmers of regret after years of denying any wrongdoing, Katsav’s statements do not amount to an admission of guilt for the two counts of rape for which he was convicted and they will therefore oppose the early release.

Late Sunday, Channel 2 quoted from a letter Katsav is said to have sent to close friends, acknowledging pain caused to his victims. “I’m sure the women who filed complaints against me were hurt, and did go through what they said they went through,” Katsav reportedly wrote. “I have made mistakes and I must learn the lessons. I now recognize that I hurt them, and that I did not see the signs that they were hurt. I erred.

Moshe Katsav entering jail. (Yossi Zeliger/flash90)
Moshe Katsav entering jail. (Yossi Zeliger/flash90)

The former president, 71, was convicted in 2010, of two counts of rape, among other related charges. He began serving his sentence in Ma’asiyahu Prison in December 2011 and was slated for release in December 2018.

Katsav has consistently denied committing any offenses and has portrayed himself as a victim. When his previous attempts to secure his release were shot down, it was reported at the time that Katsav had then been placed on a suicide watch and given psychological counseling.

Early parole is very common in the Israeli prison system, with a majority of prisoners managing to obtain the standard one-third reduction to their sentence for good behavior.

The Israel Prisons Service has said Katsav’s behavior as a prisoner has been above reproach.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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