Clemency requests for Katsav come amid reports of mental health deterioration

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Two clemency requests reportedly will be submitted to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin asking that he consider releasing former president Moshe Katsav, following a severe deterioration of his health.

The requests, to be filed by Katsav’s wife Gila and his attorney Zion Amir, were reported Sunday by Israeli news outlets.

According to reports, Katsav’s mental health has declined since he entered prison in December 2011, and declined very severely since the rejection last month of his request for an early release from prison on sexual assault convictions.

Katsav, 70, has served about two-thirds of a seven-year jail sentence for convictions on rape, sexual assault and harassment. He began serving his sentence in December 2011 and is scheduled to be released in December 2018.

Early parole of up to a one-third reduction in a sentence is common in Israel. An Israel Prisons Service parole board deliberated for more than two hours on April 6 before unanimously rejecting Katsav’s request for early release. The board had delayed making a decision twice in the days leading up to the decision.

Among the board’s reasons for rejecting the request are Katsav has not admitted guilt and accepted responsibility for his actions or shown any remorse. He also has said he did not receive a fair trial.

Katsav’s attorney said he would appeal the early parole rejection. Katsav can request an early release again in October.

A statement issued Sunday from the President’s Office said that it had not yet received a formal clemency request.

Katsav was given a furlough to join his family for seder at his home in southern Israel.

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