Israel ex-president set for release after rape jail term

AFP , Wednesday 21 Dec 2016

Israeli ex-president Moshe Katsav was expected to be freed from prison soon after prosecutors declined Wednesday to appeal a parole board decision to release him early from his term for rape.

The justice ministry said prosecutors would not appeal the decision of the parole board announced on Sunday, meaning Katsav would be allowed to go free after serving five years of his seven-year sentence.

The process of releasing him would begin immediately, the prison service said.

Katsav, 71, was convicted in December 2010 of 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, resigned from the largely ceremonial role of president in June 2007 and became an outcast of the political establishment.

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

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

Israeli media reported, however, that the parole board in its latest decision found that Katsav had more recently "undergone a change".

"The prisoner was asked many questions by the committee members regarding the circumstances of the offence, the victims' positions, his attitude to the victims and his understanding of his acts and their consequences, and the committee members were impressed by the honesty of his intentions," Haaretz newspaper reported the board as saying.

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