/ 31 October 2008

Israel punishes Rabin assassin for interviews

Israel moved the assassin of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin on Friday to a higher security prison and withheld privileges and family visits to punish him for giving television interviews, an official said.

Israel’s prison authorities acted after excerpts of the interviews with Yigal Amir, jailed for life for killing Rabin in 1995 over an accord with Palestinians, were condemned by officials after their publication in a daily newspaper.

The Maariv daily quoted Amir in the interviews, timed to mark the anniversary of Rabin’s shooting on November 4, as blaming three former right-wing leaders for influencing him.

They were said to have warned the peace deal would ”bring disaster”. Yaron Zamir, a prison authority spokesperson, said Amir ”has been punished” for giving the unauthorised interviews.”

He was moved from a centrally located jail to a prison where Palestinian security criminals are held in southern Israel, and rights and privileges, such as telephone calls, visits with his wife and electronic devices had been denied, Zamir said.

Two Israeli television stations, Channels 2 and 10, succumbed to criticism and cancelled plans to show the telephone interview on Friday, media reports said.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak, head of the left-wing party to which Rabin had belonged, criticised interviewing Amir, who has never expressed remorse for his actions.

”Yigal Amir should rot in jail to his final days. He mustn’t be allowed under any circumstances to be involved in Israeli discourse,” Barak said.

Dalia Dorner, a retired high court justice who oversees Israel’s main journalists’ association, said Amir’s remarks were seen by some as a threat since some Israelis still justified his actions.

Last year controversy surrounded the birth of a son to Amir, who was circumcised on the 12th anniversary of the assassination. — Reuters