President Shimon Peres on Tuesday emphatically ruled out the notion that he would ever pardon prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir.
During a tour of Ayalon Prison in Ramle, near Tel Aviv, with reporters, the president answered a question about the possibility of granting Amir clemency.
“God forbid,” he said. “His crime will not be forgotten as long as I live. I’ll never forgive the murderer of one of our nation’s greatest leaders.”
Evoking the deep schism among Israelis over the Oslo Accords in the years leading up to the assassination, Peres said, “Differences in opinion among people exist, but the solution isn’t to resort to shooting… [Amir] should rot in jail. He should pay the full price for his murder, just as we, society at large, have paid because of his crime.”
Amir is serving out a life sentence for gunning down Rabin after a pro-peace rally in central Tel Aviv on November 4, 1995. His brother, Hagai, who was convicted of being an accomplice to the murder, was released from jail in May 2012 after serving 16 years.
In July 2012, after serving 15 years of his sentence — life plus 11 years — Amir was taken out of solitary confinement.
Amir has never publicly expressed regret or remorse for Rabin’s murder, making the possibility of a presidential pardon virtually impossible in legal terms, even if the president were inclined to release him.
On Tuesday, Peres was also asked about his predecessor in office, Moshe Katsav, who is serving out a seven-year sentence for rape.
“I’m aware of the gravity of his offense, especially as it concerns sexual harassment, but only with the case in front of me would I be able to consider it and give my opinion,” Peres said.
Katsav, who was convicted of two counts of rape and other sexual offenses, requested a presidential pardon in October, citing family circumstances, as well as health and mental anguish.
The Justice Ministry deferred his petition on Monday. A source within the ministry told Yedioth Ahronoth that the president was ineligible for several reasons, notably because he hadn’t admitted to committing the offenses for which he was convicted, much less expressed remorse, and because most clemency petitioners have served at least one-third of their term. Katsav has currently served slightly over a year of his seven-year term.