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Israeli Supreme Court upholds Rabin assassin's conviction

amir August 4, 1996
Web posted at: 8:15 a.m. EDT (1215 GMT)

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel's highest court said Sunday that the convicted assassin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin must remain in prison.

Supreme Court Judge Eliezer Goldberg read out the court's decision rejecting Yigal Amir's appeal.

"In a criminal trial you need reasonable doubt" to overturn a verdict, Goldberg said. "Doubt does not exist in any form in this case."

Amir, a religious Jew who said he believed Rabin's peace policies were harmful to Israel, admitted shooting the prime minister at a peace rally last November 4, but said he intended only to paralyze him. He was convicted of the killing on March 27 and sentenced to life in prison.

Attorneys for Amir had argued that a second gunman was involved in the shooting, and that Amir was mentally unbalanced and therefore should not be held accountable for his actions.

"I'm disappointed," defense attorney Shmuel Flishman said after the three-judge panel's decision. "I'm sure that if we hadn't been speaking about the murder of the prime minister the court would have acted differently."

Amir's defense also asked the court to reduce the murder charge to manslaughter and to allow a 6-year sentence for wounding one of Rabin's bodyguards to be served concurrently with the sentence he received for the assassination. The court rejected those pleas as well.

Amir did not appear in court for the decision, the first court appearance he has missed. The 26-year-old former law student was in the 12th day of a hunger strike protesting his prison conditions, and wrote to the court that travel would be "too taxing." He also claimed the prison authorities had refused to allow him to speak with his attorney to prepare for the session.

Amir, his brother Hagai and friend Dror Adani are also being tried for conspiracy to kill Rabin and planning attacks on Arabs. Amir faces an additional sentence if he is convicted.

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