President Reuven Rivlin on Monday commuted the life sentence of a woman convicted of murdering of her husband, citing the continued violent abuse she suffered throughout her marriage.
A statement from Rivlin’s office said the president had recently received “material that painted a dark picture of a woman who was subjected to extreme and continued violence by her partner.”
Rivlin’s commutation will make Dalal Daoud immediately eligible for early parole, where she could be released from prison, under the supervision by welfare authorities.
In Israel, a life sentence carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, and inmates are eligible for early release after 15 years.
Doud, who was sentenced in 2002, will be eligible to face the parole board at the end of 2017 regardless of Rivlin’s intervention.
According to reports in Hebrew-language media from the time of the trial, Daoud’s attorney’s told the court that her husband regularly beat, raped and kept her chained up when she was home alone out of fear she was being unfaithful to him.
The defense also noted that Daoud had filed a number of police complaints against her husband, and had been hospitalized numerous times with injuries as a result of his beatings and from at least one suicide attempt.
In January 1997, days after Daoud gave birth to the couple’s youngest son, her husband flew into a violent rage, claiming she was having an affair with his brother. He beat her and threatened to rape her in front the couple’s young children. Daoud managed to calm him down by giving him a number of sleeping pills, and after he fell asleep, she covered him completely with several blankets. Daoud’s husband suffocated overnight, and in the morning she disposed of his body with the help of a family friend.
Daoud initially denied killing her husband, but later told the court she had denied the crime out of fear her late husband’s family would retaliate against her and her family.
Her defense team immediately filed a request for a retrial to the Supreme Court, arguing the original trial failed to consider Daoud’s medical records, which they said proved the extensive history of abuse, were not taken into consideration by the district court judge.
In 2014, Justice Elyakim Rubenstein rejected the request.
Rivlin’s announcement was met with praise from female lawmakers from the Meretz party, Zehava Galon, Michal Rozin, and Tamar Zandberg.
In a statement, Galon thanked the president for considering Daoud’s difficult past and the failure of the welfare authorities to intervene on her behalf.
“Dalal is the victim of terrible circumstances, violence and neglect,” she said. “Over the years Dalal tried to extricate herself from her violent marriage and turned to the authorities for help, but to no avail. No one reached out to help Dalal, and she was left abandoned to her own devices.”
Rivlin’s move comes less than six months after he declined to pardon a man jailed for killing his rapist and tormentor.
In December last year, Rivlin said that while he felt “sorrow and pain” for Yonatan Heilo, there was “no justification” for pardoning him for the murder of Yaron Eilin in 2010.