President commutes sentence of man convicted of killing his rapist

Lawyer for Yonatan Heilo: After five-year struggle, pardon is ‘proof that impossible can become possible’

Yonatan Heilo arrives a the Supreme Court to hear the decision on his appeal on May 31, 2016 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yonatan Heilo arrives a the Supreme Court to hear the decision on his appeal on May 31, 2016 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

President Rivlin on Sunday commuted part of the sentence of a man convicted of killing his rapist and sentenced in 2013 to 20 years in prison.

Yonatan Heilo, who has long fought for early release, will be able to ask the parole board for immediate release in the next couple of weeks, Rivlin’s office said in a statement.

“In view of the significant rehabilitation process that Heilo has undergone over the past year, in light of his exceptional medical condition, and considering his difficult and special circumstances as a victim of severe acts prior to what he did, the president decided to adopt the justice minister’s recommendation and to convert part of the prison sentence imposed on Heilo into a suspended sentence, so that the sentence of actual imprisonment will be ten years and eight months and he can face the parole board in the near future,” it said.

Heilo was initially convicted of murdering Yaron Eilin in the coastal city of Netanya, after the latter repeatedly raped, robbed and blackmailed him over a period of several months in 2010.

However, in 2016, following an appeal, the Supreme Court softened Heilo’s murder conviction, instead finding him guilty of manslaughter and reducing his term from 20 years to 12.

In 2016, at the recommendation of the Justice Ministry, Rivlin turned down Heilo’s request for a full pardon but said he would reconsider if a further request was submitted after a substantial period of time.

President Reuven RIvlin speaks during a conference of the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in Los Angeles, on November 14, 2017 (Mark Neyman/GPO)

The latest request for a presidential pardon, submitted by Knesset lawmaker Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union), was signed by more than 70 Knesset members.

Heilo’s lawyer, Alon Eizenberg, said, “The State Prosecutor’s Office fought to sentence him to life imprisonment and did not believe that he had been sexually abused.”

He added, “In the spirit of liberation and after five years of struggle, it is clear that Yonatan Heilo is proof that it is possible to make the impossible possible.”

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