The Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed the 2013 murder conviction of a man who killed his own rapist, convicting him of manslaughter instead.
Yonatan Hilo will serve a 12-year prison sentence, down from his initial 20 years.
In 2010, Hilo killed Yaron Ayalon, after Ayalon repeatedly raped, robbed and blackmailed him over a period of several months.
In December 2014, the Lod District Court — while recognizing Hilo as a rape victim — rejected his self-defense claim on the grounds that he hadn’t reported the assaults to police and that several weeks had elapsed between the last assault and Ayalon’s killing.
But in its response to Hilo’s appeal on Tuesday, the Supreme Court recognized the “ongoing taunting” that Hilo had suffered “over a long period of abuse by the deceased toward the appellant, which included a web of violent incidents, threats of violence including threats on the appellant’s life, financial extortion and sexual abuse, which included two acts of sodomy.”
In their verdict, the judges wrote that this was “one of the cases in which the law falls short of encompassing the full complexity of life and of human suffering.”
Consideration for the distress of an individual had to be balanced against society’s need for justice, the judges wrote. They added that the need to protect the sanctity of life for all, including those who have committed crimes, had to be considered alongside the fear of legitimizing an individual’s authority to mete out justice and revenge.
Hilo’s lawyer, Alon Eisenburg, told Israel Radio that his client should have been completely cleared of any crime.
Ayalon, a convicted felon, had made comments to Hilo during a 2010 Lag B’Omer celebration suggesting that he intended to rape him again, according to reports about the incident. Later that evening, when Ayalon went to urinate in an alley and had his back turned, Hilo jumped him from behind, strangled him and beat his body with a rock.
Hilo turned himself in to police the following day and said he did not intend to kill Ayalon, only teach him a lesson.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.