MKs urge president to pardon man jailed for killing his rapist

June 14, 2016  

Members of Knesset from across the political spectrum have appealed to President Reuven Rivlin to pardon a man incarcerated for murdering his rapist.

Yonatan Heilo was initially sentenced to 20 years in prison for killing Yaron Ayalon, who had repeated beat, raped and blackmailed him over the course of several months.

When the two met one night in May, 2010, Heilo claims his abuser threatened to rape him for a third time. The defendant said he acted in self-defense to fend off the attack, strangling Eilin, then bludgeoning him to death with bricks. He later dragged the body to a nearby garbage dump before turning himself in to police.

In May, Hilo’s sentence was reduced on appeal to 12 years, with the judge noting the extenuating circumstances of his crime.

But at least 65 MKs – a majority in the 120-seat Knesset – from nearly all factions have called for him to be freed altogether.

In a letter drafted by Deputy Knesset Speaker Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union), the legislators note that the young Ethiopian-Israeli had no previous criminal record, and had only acted in self-defense.

The case has been a cause for considerable controversy in Israel, with significant public sympathy for Heilo’s plight.

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