Rabin’s killer Yigal Amir submits request for retrial

Assassin’s legal team claims he did not fire bullets responsible for Yitzhak Rabin’s death even though he tried to

Raoul Wootliff is a former Times of Israel political correspondent and Daily Briefing podcast producer.

Yigal Amir, the assassin of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, during a court hearing in 2004. (photo credit: Flash90)
Yigal Amir, the assassin of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, during a court hearing in 2004. (photo credit: Flash90)

Yigal Amir, who is serving a life sentence for the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, officially submitted a request for a retrial on Sunday.

In a Facebook post, Amir’s wife, Larissa Trimbobler, shared the message she received from her public relations adviser, Michael Achour, informing her that her husband had signed the documents necessary for the legal move.

Last week, Trimbobler announced in a separate post that a legal defense team was being set up in preparation for filing the request in coordination with her husband.

The case against Amir was clear cut. He was caught on video raising a gun to Rabin. He calmly confessed to the police, re-enacted the crime for them, and never recanted his testimony.

Fringe conspiracy theories have emerged positing a number of possibilities other than Amir being the assassin. The theories rely on some purportedly ambiguous facts surrounding the night of the murder: claims that the bullets were blanks, witnesses who say they didn’t see blood at the scene, an abnormally long drive to a very near-by hospital.

Larissa Amir Trimbobler, Yigal Amir’s wife. (Courtesy)

Speaking last week to The Times of Israel, Achour, a PR adviser representing the Amir family, said that the defense team plans to claim Amir should not have been tried for murder, and that a new trial should be held on attempted murder charges, alleging that someone else killed Rabin just as Amir was trying to.

“We are not saying that Yigal Amir wasn’t there and we are not saying that he didn’t shoot. But there is proof that his bullets didn’t kill Rabin,” Achour said. “He was there, but he didn’t kill him. It should be considered attempted murder.”

Trimbobler did not give a reason for requesting the retrial, but a day earlier, she posted images on Facebook purporting to show that one of Rabin’s bodyguards knew of the assassination plot.

On her Facebook page last week, Trimbobler wrote another post saying that the defense team had “18 pieces of proof that the bullets that Yigal Amir fired at Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s head on November 4, 1995, were not those that caused his death.”

Promising to “reveal the truth,” she said that if anyone had further proof, they should send it to the defense team. She said that the information would be passed on to the international press, though not to Israeli media outlets.

Yehoshua Reznik (Courtesy)

Yehoshua Reznik, who was Israel’s deputy attorney general from 1990 to 2000 and has been in private practice as a defense attorney ever since, said ​the latest ​claims “sound like some conspiratorial tale,” often peddled by fringe Amir supporters, and have very little chance of warranting a retrial.

​In order to trigger such a retrial, Amir’s legal team “would have to convince the Supreme Court that the original proofs provided by the prosecution were false or falsified, or bring new ​evidence that wasn’t available at the time of the original case,” Reznik told The Times of Israel.

“They’d need to prove that they have real established proofs and not just half-baked ideas based on hearsay and rumors,” he said.

While not ruling out the possibility that new evidence exists, Reznik added: “I don’t believe they have anything new. The claims sound like some conspiratorial tale that has been circulated in the past.”

Amir, now 47, is serving a life sentence for the assassination of Rabin. He remains in solitary confinement, though he was given permission to marry Trimbobler in 2004, after a protracted legal struggle.

Previous attempts to have Amir freed based on the conspiracy theories have fallen short.

Both the court that convicted Amir and the subsequent Shamgar Commission, established to investigate the chain of events leading up to the assassination, rejected the conspiracy claims, and concluded that Amir was guilty of murder.

Israeli security personnel pushing Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin into a car, after he was mortally wounded by an assassin in Tel Aviv, November 4, 1995. Rabin can be seen between the legs of the security officer leaning against the car. (AFP PHOTO/STR)

Rabin served as Israel’s chief of staff during the Six Day War in 1967. He was later ambassador to the US, defense minister, and twice prime minister.

In 1994, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with then-foreign minister Shimon Peres and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, for his part in signing the Oslo Peace accords a year earlier.

Earlier this month, over 85,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv for the main annual memorial event marking the assassination of Rabin. The ceremony is often used a rallying point for the left, which accuses the right-wing of having fomented incitement against Rabin leading to his death, but this time marked a departure with a call for unity and a healing of political rifts instead.

The ceremony, titled “We are one people,” was held in the square where Rabin was shot. Originally called Malchei Yisrael Square, it was renamed Rabin Square following the assassination.

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