Agreement to leave won Goodman release Lawyer reveals pact

family is uncertain of Baltimorean's location

October 28, 1997|By Ann LoLordo | Ann LoLordo,SUN FOREIGN STAFF Sun staff writers Jay Apperson, Dan Fesperman, Peter Hermann and John Rivera contributed to this article.

JERUSALEM -- Israeli prosecutors, citing security concerns, opposed the early prison release of Alan H. Goodman until they were assured that the Baltimore-born Israeli convicted of a terrorist killing would return to the United States, his lawyer said yesterday.

Goodman, 53, was released from prison Sunday in Israel and put on a plane for the United States. He had served 15 1/2 years of a life sentence for murder in the 1982 attack. He was freed after agreeing to leave Israel for the remaining eight years of his reduced sentence, prison officials said.

He was to have arrived early yesterday in Baltimore, in hopes of reuniting with his elderly mother, according to his lawyer, Baruch Ben Yosef. But Helen Goodman said yesterday afternoon that she did not know where her son was.

"I have no comment. He is not here," she said from behind the door of her Pimlico apartment.

State police and Baltimore police made inquiries yesterday to the State Department in Washington about Goodman. Baltimore police spokesman Robert W. Weinhold Jr. said the department "made a cursory inquiry for informational purposes only." Detectives said they simply want to be aware of who the man is, so they can react to anything that might happen.

Ben Yosef said Israeli prosecutors initially opposed Goodman's early release during an Oct. 9 hearing before a three-member board. They characterized Goodman as a security risk and presented secret evidence to the parole panel to support their contention, the lawyer said in an interview.

But prosecutors dropped their opposition after being assured that Goodman would leave Israel, and the board approved his release on condition that he not return during the eight years left in his term, Ben Yosef said.

Goodman was convicted of killing a Muslim worshiper and injuring four others in an April 11, 1982, shooting at the Haram al-Sharif, the third-holiest shrine in Islam. The area, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, is considered the holiest place in Judaism as the site of the Western Wall and the ancient temples of Solomon and Herod.

A second man died in the ensuing riot, killed by a bullet fired by Israeli police.

At the time, Goodman said he opened fire with his army-issued rifle to avenge the deaths of Israelis killed by Arab terrorists. His original life sentence was reduced twice by Chaim Herzog, then-president of Israel. It was again reduced, from 31 to 24 years, by current President Ezer Weizman, the lawyer said.

Deal confirmed

A spokeswoman for Israel's prison authority said she could not comment on the lawyer's account of the parole deal. She confirmed that Goodman was released by the parole committee on the condition that he leave Israel.

Moshe Fogel, a government spokesman, acknowledged the deal. "This was an independent parole board agreement with TC parolee that he would situate himself out of Israel for the remaining third of his sentence in order to avoid a potential friction situation in Israel."

Ben Yosef said he was initially asked to represent Goodman to reinstate the inmate's monthly furloughs, which had been taken away after he was spotted at the Temple Mount, the scene of his shooting. After a request from an advocacy group, the Defenders of Jewish Prisoners of Conscience, Ben Yosef agreed to represent Goodman for free.

Ben Yosef lost the furlough appeal. "Then we focused on getting him out," the lawyer said.

In Israel, a convicted felon who has served two-thirds of his sentence may seek parole. The government can support or oppose a release petition. In Goodman's case, "the state prosecutors said they didn't want him released at all, that he is a danger to state security," Ben Yosef recalled.

Ben Yosef said prosecutors presented secret evidence to the parole panel, evidence that was provided by the state security service. Ben Yosef said he was prohibited from seeing the evidence or questioning a representative from the security service who attended the hearing.

"I told the committee [that] if Goodman was released, his plan is to leave the country, go back to the States to reconnect with his family," the lawyer said.

Although Goodman is an Israeli citizen, he retained U.S. citizenship. He speaks little or no Hebrew and addressed the parole committee in English, his lawyer said. Goodman emigrated from the United States to Israel in the late 1970s; he was drafted into the Israeli military weeks before the shooting on the Temple Mount.

Ben Yosef said the "government came back with a suggestion, that he agree to leave the country and never come back."

A new U.S. passport

The parole committee issued an order to prison officials to assist Goodman in obtaining a valid U.S. passport.

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