Ex-Israeli president convicted of rape released on parole

Ex-Israeli president convicted of rape released on parole
Israeli courts on Sunday agreed to release former Israeli president, Moshe Katsav from prison after serving five of his seven year sentence on rape charges.
2 min read
18 December, 2016
Katsav was sentenced to seven years in prison for the crimes [Getty]

Israel's former president Moshe Katsav was granted parole from prison on Sunday after serving five years of a seven-year term for rape and other sexual offences, his lawyer said.

"It was a very long journey," Tzion Amir said in remarks broadcast on Israeli army radio. "Today that journey reached its end with a reasoned decision by the parole committee."

Justice officials could not be reached by AFP for further details, but media said Katsav's release would be frozen for seven days for prosecutors to decide whether to appeal the decision.

Amir said Katsav burst into tears on hearing the ruling.

Katsav began his sentence in December 2011 and had already been rejected twice by the parole board since he became eligible for the customary one-third reduction for good behaviour behind bars.

His previous applications were turned down, in part because he had expressed no remorse over his crimes and undergone no rehabilitative process.

Once released, Katsav will face restrictions on his movements including a ban on overseas travel and a requirement to be at home during the night.

The decision to free him was criticised by a group of opposition lawmakers including the leader of the Meretz party, Zehava Galon.

"This is a dangerous message that you can attack women and get away with it with the least punishment provided you are well-connected," they said in a statement.

Katsav has always maintained his innocence despite being convicted in December 2010 on two counts of rape, sexual harassment, indecent acts and obstruction of justice.

The Iran-born bureaucrat, who rose from impoverished origins as a child immigrant to the nation's top ceremonial job, resigned in June 2007 and became an outcast of the political establishment.

A member of the right-wing Likud party, in 2000 he became Israel's first conservative president and the first born in an Islamic country.

For months he defied enormous public pressure to quit over the allegations before ultimately resigning as part of a plea bargain in 2007.

Katsav entered Ma'asiyahu prison near Tel Aviv on December 7, 2011.