Rabin assassin hires prominent lawyer to work for his early release

Yoram Sheftel to appeal against law barring pardoning or commutation of prison sentence for anyone convicted of murdering PM, claiming it singles out Yigal Amir

Yigal Amir, appearing in court in 2004. (Yoram Rubin/Flash90/File)
Yigal Amir, appearing in court in 2004. (Yoram Rubin/Flash90/File)

The convicted assassin of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin has hired a prominent defense lawyer as part of his efforts to be released from prison.

Yigal Amir, who is serving a life sentence for the 1995 murder of Rabin, has enlisted Yoram Sheftel to appeal to the High Court of Justice against the “Yigal Amir Law.”

The law, passed in 2001, bars parole boards from pardoning or commuting the sentence of a prisoner convicted of murdering a prime minister for political reasons.

Sheftel told the network that the law is retroactive, having been passed six years after the assassination, and singles out Amir — as he is the only person it applies to — and is therefore unlawful and should be scrapped.

“The time has come to release Yigal Amir — not today, not tomorrow, but yesterday,” Sheftel told Channel 12 news in a report Tuesday night.

Attorney Yoram Sheftel speaks during a rally in support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on November 26, 2019. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Amir shot Rabin to death at the end of a rally in Tel Aviv called to highlight opposition to violence and to showcase public support for the prime minister’s efforts to make peace with the Palestinians.

Last month, a Beersheba court rejected Amir’s request for a prison furlough to attend his son’s bar mitzvah.

The Shin Bet security service has assessed that a quarter of a century after killing Rabin, Amir is still a threat to national security since he has followers outside prison who pose a danger, Channel 13 news reported in November.

Amir has been seeking ways to have himself set free from prison by way of political support.

During Israel’s recent run of three consecutive elections within a year and half, his wife formed the Mishpat Tzedek (Fair Trial) party, which called for a retrial for the convicted killer and “all other innocent people unjustly incarcerated.”

Yigal Amir reenacts the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in Tel Aviv. (Government Press Office)

In October 2019, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Amir to lift prison restrictions imposed after he used his phone for political purposes. Amir was denied phone calls, family visits, conjugal visits, newspapers and access to electrical appliances at the time as a result of his attempts to shore up political support.

Amir has been alone in his cell for years, but normally has access to television and other privileges. He was sentenced by the prison’s commander to seven days in solitary confinement in a cell with only basic amenities after he made a call to Yoav Eliasi, a rapper and far-right activist known as “The Shadow.” Amir asked Eliasi to help fight for his release. The rapper rejected his request.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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