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Woman pardoned { July 18 2001 }

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Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 19:16 GMT 20:16 UK
Rabin murder plot woman pardoned

A woman involved in the 1995 assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has been pardoned by the Israeli President, Moshe Katsav.
Margalit Har-Shefi was convicted in 1998 of not preventing Rabin's murder although the assassin, Yigal Amir, had told her of his plans.

She will be released from prison on 10 August, after serving more than half of her nine-month sentence.

Amir shot and killed Rabin after a peace rally in Tel Aviv on 4 November 1995, because he opposed the prime minister's compromise policies toward the Palestinians.

In her defence in court, Har-Shefi said she had no idea Amir would actually carry out his plot and did not take him seriously.

Mr Katsav said he was convinced that Har-Shefi, 25, "has paid her debt to society, has been punished, and is pained by the horrible assassination and has denounced it".

He also explained that prison conditions were especially hard on Har-Shefi because of her young age and religious upbringing.

Opposition outcry

The pardon triggered an outcry from the opposition in Israel.

Yossi Sarid, the head of the Israeli opposition in the Israeli Knesset, or parliament, said Mr Katsav's arguments were invalid and had already been rejected twice by two courts and a parole board.

"The president's decision is especially harmful, particularly now, when threats against political leaders persist and grow," he said.

Knesset Member Eitan Cabel, of the Labour party, said that he planned to file a petition with the Supreme Court against the decision.

Mr Cabel said political considerations "defeated the memory of Rabin in the battle for the president's opinion."

Labour Knesset Member Dalia Rabin-Pelossof, Rabin's daughter, called Katsav's decision "miserable," saying it "sent a negative message to youth."

Har-Shefi's father, Dov, praised the president's decision: "The community in Beit-El [a West Bank Jewish settlement] is convinced, 100 per cent, that Margalit is innocent of any crime," he told Israel TV.

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