Assassin is defiant brother is arrested

Shooter says land transfer made killing necessary

The Assassination Of Yitzhak Rabin

November 07, 1995|By Joshua Brilliant | Joshua Brilliant,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

TEL AVIV, Israel -- Yigal Amir told an Israeli court yesterday that he had murdered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin because, "the minute a Jew gives his people and land over to the enemy one must kill him."

Also, authorities said that Mr. Amir's 27-year-old brother, Hagai, may have provided the gun and manufactured a custom-made "dum-dum" bullet that would inflict a more severe injury than a regular round.

"He [Hagai Amir] took a bullet, drilled a hole in it and turned it into a lethal bullet which causes far more damage than a regular one," a police officer told Magistrate Court Judge Dan Arbel yesterday, in describing the way the assassin's brother built a hollow-body bullet, which expands on impact, making it especially destructive.

Hagai Amir admitted to the court that he doctored bullets by adding iron pellets to the tips, but said that he did so only "to make them more accurate."

Hagai also holds the license for the pistol used by his brother, and he has been charged with failure to prevent a crime.

Mr. Rabin was shot at close range and died about 90 minutes later.

The thin, unshaven Yigal Amir, 25, remained defiant yesterday as he was led into a small courtroom, where he was ordered held for an additional 15 days without bail. He told Judge Dan Arbel that he did not want a lawyer.

The third-year law student at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv willingly described the crime, saying he'd shot Mr. Rabin Saturday night in order to halt the Middle East peace process.

"The goal was to shock public opinion, that they should stop being indifferent to [Rabin's] neglect of tens of thousands of people," he said, alluding to the Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank who feel threatened by encroaching Palestinian autonomy.

"A Palestinian state with an army of terrorists" is emerging, he shouted to journalists.

The judge sought information about any conspiracy.

"Did anyone act with you?" the judge asked.

"I acted alone." Mr. Amir answered, then seconds later he added, Maybe God [helped]."

Police say not only that his brother helped, but that both the Amirs may in turn be connected to a wider network of extremists.

Police representative Mordechai Nitsani told Judge Arbel that the Amir brothers may be associated with an outlawed extremist group, possibly Kahane Chai, named after the late radical Rabbi Meyer Kahane.

The hints of such connections have prodded some members of the government to suggest that a crackdown against far-right groups may soon be necessary.

Interior Minister Ehud Barak told Israel television that extremists must be "quashed." They "must be placed under surveillance and once they commit the first offense, the first physical or verbal violence, they must be brought to court and locked up."

Mr. Barak is not yet in a position to decide such moves, but he is likely to become defense minister in the next Cabinet and is widely considered a future contender for prime minister.

At the Tel Aviv courtroom yesterday he may have found an ally in Judge Arbel, who upheld a temporary security ban on meetings between Mr. Amir and a lawyer his family and friends want to represent him.

The judge said the ban was required "to locate other people involved in the affair Even a democratic, liberal state has a right to protect itself and not commit suicide."

Murder trials in Israel are decided by majority decision by a three-judge panel, which delivers both verdict and sentence.

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