Former Israeli president set to be freed on parole after years in jail for rape

Israel’s Moshe Katsav set for early release from prison after serving five years behind bars for rape

Former Israel president Moshe Katsav (centre)
Former Israel president Moshe Katsav (centre)

Disgraced former Israeli president Moshe Katsav, who has been serving a seven-year prison sentence for rape, was on Sunday set for early release after five years behind bars, a parole board order said.

The parole board rules on Sunday that Katsav, 71, could walk free next week. However, his release has been delayed by at least a week while state prosecutors consider whether to appeal against the parole board's decision.

Katsav resigned from the largely ceremonial post in 2007, and was convicted of raping an aide when he was a cabinet minister in the late 1990s. He was also convicted of molesting or sexually harassing two other women employees during his 2000-2007 term as president.

Katsav, a former member of the right-wing Likud party, was jailed in 2011. He had for a long time denied any wrongdoing and was turned down for early release on two previous occasions.

In its decision on Sunday, the board wrote that since the first failed hearing, Katsav had “travelled a long path, had benefited from prison therapy services and had recognized and regretted his actions against the women and the pain he had caused them.”

Katsav's lawyer, Zion Amir, said the former president  burst into tears on hearing the news.

“It was a very long journey,” he told Israeli army radio.

“Today that journey reached its end with a reasoned decision by the parole committee,” Katsav’s lawyer said.

Katsav was born in Iran and became the first Israeli president to come from a Muslim country. He became a Likud party MP in 1977 at the age of 30.