Rabin’s Killer Defiant as He Faces Judge : Assassination: He cites Bible to defend action. His brother is arrested.


Facing a judge for the first time, law student Yigal Amir on Monday again admitted killing Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and let loose a tirade of defiance.

“I didn’t want to stop the peace process, since there is no such concept as the peace process,” Amir said. “This is a process of war.”

Refusing a lawyer, he cited biblical precedent for his action and said Rabin was the target because he had left Jewish settlers “at the mercy of armed terrorists” in the occupied territories.

“We need to be coldhearted,” he declared.


In rambling remarks, Amir, 25, also complained that he had not been issued a toothbrush in jail.

In shooting Rabin, Amir said, he acted “alone, but maybe with God.” Police, however, arrested Amir’s brother, Hagai, 27, on Sunday on suspicion of involvement in the killing.

At a separate hearing Monday, Hagai Amir acknowledged customizing the especially destructive hollow-body bullets used in the slaying. He denied knowing that his brother planned to kill Rabin on Saturday and said he had not known that the bullets were intended for murder.

Police said they were questioning more associates of Yigal Amir, noting that he had participated in right-wing demonstrations against the peace process begun by Rabin’s government with the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1993.

Yigal Amir’s court appearance, called a remand hearing, began about 8 a.m. in Tel Aviv, where the assassination occurred, lasted less than an hour and was over before funeral ceremonies for the fallen Rabin began in Jerusalem.

Magistrate Dan Arbel allowed police and prosecutors 15 days to gather evidence and return with an indictment on specific charges; after that time elapses he could grant an additional 15 days.

The magistrate noted that Amir had already remorselessly acknowledged committing the killing.

“Before me is a suspect in one of the worst crimes ever committed in Israel and from a public viewpoint possibly the worst committed at all times in this country,” Arbel said as Amir sat, hands clasped, between two police officers.

“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.”

Hagai Amir is being held for seven days before prosecutors must bring specific charges; that period may be extended later. A police investigator told the magistrate that Hagai Amir “was a willing accomplice in this assassination, even if he only failed to prevent the crime,” according to a transcript of the proceeding carried by Itim, Israel’s domestic news agency.

“He [Hagai Amir] took a bullet, drilled a hole in it and turned it into a lethal bullet that causes far more damage than a regular one,” the officer said.

“On the day of the incident, they both [the two brothers] sat and watched television, and Hagai saw him [Yigal] leave. We believe he knew where he was going and didn’t try to stop him.”

At his hearing Monday, Yigal Amir, thin and unshaven, wore a blue shirt and a black skullcap. He argued morality with the judge and shouted at reporters various justifications for the slaying.

“A Jew who turns over his land and people to enemies--Halakhic law allows him to be killed,” said Amir, referring to traditional Jewish law and teachings.

When the magistrate asked in counterpoint whether the Ten Commandments had been revoked, including the one that forbids killing, Amir said, “No, but the concept pales when confronted with pikuach nefesh "--shorthand for a Hebrew saying asserting that to save a life, one may justifiably violate other Jewish laws.

“If you see someone threatening to kill your friend,” said Amir, “you must save him. This is a noble and supreme cause. . . . If the prime minister openly says that he is responsible for 98% of the public and not for the 2% living in the [occupied] territories . . . it was my duty, my call.”

Amir said to reporters that in custody he was being treated “worse than an Arab detainee--no toothbrush.” Police officials declined comment on the conditions of his incarceration, except to say that he was jailed at Abu Kabir, on the outskirts of Jaffa.

In Israeli murder cases, suspects who confess are required to re-enact the event for police video cameras. A police spokesman said a re-enactment is planned.

Murder trials in Israel are decided by majority decision of a panel of three judges, who deliver both verdict and sentence. Convicted murderers typically face life imprisonment, but Israeli law does include a death-penalty provision in cases of crimes against humanity.

Israeli attorney Mordechai Ofri said Monday that he had agreed to represent Yigal Amir--and to accept payment from individuals he would not name--but Amir declined representation, and Israeli security officials barred both Amir brothers from meeting with any attorneys before Wednesday.

Yigal Amir shot Rabin with a 9-millimeter Beretta, firing three times from less than 10 feet away as the prime minister stepped off a stage after addressing a peace rally at Tel Aviv’s Kings of Israel Square.