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Victim appeals prison sentence for killing rapist

Yonatan Hilo, who is serving a 20-year sentence for killing his rapist, wants his murder conviction overturned

Yonatan Hilo appeals his 20-year sentence for murder at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on December 1, 2014. (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yonatan Hilo appeals his 20-year sentence for murder at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on December 1, 2014. (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yonatan Hilo, a rape victim who was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year for killing the man who repeatedly assaulted him, began to appeal his murder conviction in the Supreme Court on Monday.

In 2010, Hilo killed Yaron Ayalon, after Ayalon repeatedly raped, robbed and blackmailed him over a period of several months.

Although the Lod District Court recognized Hilo as a rape victim, it rejected his self-defense claim on the grounds that he never reported the assaults to police and that several weeks elapsed between the last assault and Ayalon’s death.

During Hilo’s 2013 sentencing, the judges said they took into account Hilo’s mental distress, but ultimately charged Hilo with murder and handed down a 20-year sentence.

During Monday’s hearing, Hilo’s lawyer Alon Eisenburg told the Supreme Court justices that trauma, emotional distress and shame prevented Hilo from taking the matter to police.

Eisenberg went on to point out that it is common for rape victims to stay silent after sexual assault, and even though he is a man, Hilo should be treated no differently than any other victim.

Ayalon, a convicted felon, made comments to Hilo during a 2010 Lag B’Omer celebration suggesting that he intended to rape him again, according to reports about the incident. Later that evening, when Ayalon went to urinate in an alley and had his back turned, Hilo jumped him from behind, strangled him and beat his body with a rock.

Hilo turned himself into police the following day and said he did not intend to kill Ayalon, only teach him a lesson.

The case has garnered substantial public sympathy, as many see Hilo’s 20-year sentence for a crime committed out of fear and alleged self-defense as excessive and unprecedented.

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