Yigal Amir, who is serving a life sentence for the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, will claim in a request for retrial that he did not fire the bullets responsible for Rabin’s death, though he did try to, The Times of Israel was told.
Larissa Trimbobler-Amir, Amir’s wife, announced in a Facebook post Saturday 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.
Still, 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 on the scene, an abnormally long drive to a very near-by hospital.
Michael Achour, a PR adviser representing the Amir family, told The Times of Israel 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-Amir 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 Sunday morning, 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.
Speaking to The Times of Israel Sunday, Trimbobler-Amir said she genuinely believed a retrial might see Amir freed. “We are hopeful it could happen,” she said.
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 poofs 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 married Trimbobler while in prison 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.
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.