Jerusalem, Oct 15: Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav, currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for raping three employees, has requested a pardon from current President Shimon Peres.
In December 2010, a court convicted the 65-year-old Katzav on charges of sexual abuse, rape and sexual harassment and assault of women employees, anonymously referred to in the local media as A., L. and H., Xinhua reported.
The three women were subordinate to him during his terms as tourism minister in the late 1990s and later as president.
Two of his victims were awarded compensation of around $35,000.
Katzav, who was in 2000 chosen over Peres for the largely ceremonial position, is currently in the 10th month of his prison sentence.
In his request to the president, Katzav has claimed innocence and asked to be allowed to continue his fight to clear his name.
He said he did not receive a fair trial because his then high-profile role fostered slanted and hostile media coverage.
He said the indictment and his incarceration, as well as his change in status, damaged him personally and, in itself, was sufficient punishment, Xinhua reported.
Peres will decide on whether to grant clemency after a justice ministry legal evaluation of the request.
Legal experts told the Ynet news website that a presidential pardon was possible only for prisoners who have admitted their crimes and showed remorse, or for convicted sexual offenders who are willing to engage in rehabilitation programme, none of which apply in Katsav’s case.