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Rabin's alleged killer appears in court

November 7, 1995
Updated at: 12:18 a.m. EST


TEL AVIV, Israel (CNN) -- The man who confessed to killing Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin appeared in court for the first time Monday. Jewish law student Yigal Amir told the judge the assassination was meant to halt the Mideast peace process.

Surrounded by guards and a barrage of journalists, Amir was led into Tel Aviv's main court in the same clothes and black skullcap he wore when he fired the fatal shots Saturday. Amir told Magistrate Dan Arbel that Rabin wanted to "give our country to the Arabs." "We need to be cold-hearted," he said.

Arbel told the court: "Before me is a suspect in one of the worst crimes ever committed in Israel, possibly the worst committed at all times in this country. The suspect confesses to the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and does not deny that he planned it in advance and did it with a clear mind."

Amir was ordered held 15 more days while police draw up charges of premeditated murder, the attempted murder of Rabin's bodyguard and participation in an illegal organization..


His 27-year-old brother, Hagai, also has been arrested and will be held for seven days. Hagai Amir told the court that he gave his brother bullets of the type used to kill Rabin.

A police official said the 9mm Beretta pistol Yigal Amir used apparently was licensed to Hagai Amir, who is a college student in the West Bank. Army radio reported that police suspect Hagai Amir may have helped plan the assassination.

Investigators are trying to determine whether Yigal Amir killed Rabin on behalf of a Jewish extremist group. Several dozen militants have been questioned. Police are also looking for the head of the Eyal group -- an offshoot of the outlawed anti-Arab Kach movement.

Asked where he got his ideas, Yigal Amir told the magistrate that he drew on the Halacha, which is the Jewish legal code. "According to the Halacha, you can kill the enemy," Amir said. "My whole life, I learned Halacha. When you kill in war, it is an act that is allowed."

Asked whether he acted alone, Amir replied: "It was God."

In a separate hearing, Hagai Amir told the court that his brother asked him who to kill to stop the Mideast peace process, and told him that he had twice aborted plans to kill Rabin. Hagai Amir said that he had modified the 9 mm bullets he gave to Yigal Amir, boring holes in them to insert iron pellets. The modification made them more accurate. He denied that his brother told him he was going to use the bullets to kill the prime minister.

Yigal Amir's preliminary hearing was held under tight security with no spectators and lasted 10 minutes.

Amir complained that he had not been given a towel, a toothbrush or soap. "Arab prisoners get more than I do," he told the judge.

He also complained that "a Palestinian state is starting to be established" because of Rabin's policies. Amir said that "50 percent were Arabs" at the peace rally where Rabin spoke minutes before he was shot. "What do you want, for them to bury us in our own state? Rabin wants to give our country to the Arabs."

Amir's family has hired an attorney, but Amir told the judge he did not want to be represented. The Shin Bet security service has barred Amir from meeting any lawyer for 48 hours, but didn't say why.

Legal sources say Amir would probably face life imprisonment, if convicted. The death penalty, on Israel's statute book for crimes against humanity and carried out once on Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1961, does not apply in civil cases.


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