Smiling and full of energy, Daniel Okev, who murdered British tourist Jeffrey Hunter and seriously injured his friend Charlotte Gibb 13 years ago, was released from Ma'asiyahu Prison yesterday, having served two-thirds of his 20-year sentence.
"There is nothing better than this," Okev told journalists. "I am the happiest person in the world.
"I feel healthy and not the same person I was in 1997," he added, responding to those who argue that he continues to pose a threat to society. "I am not a repeat offender who needs to be reeducated. I was rehabilitated in every way possible, and I will remain so until I die."
On August 12, 1997, Okev, then 47, married and father of two, was vacationing in Eilat. Sometime between 11 P.M. and 12 P.M., he decided to drive home to Even Yehuda.
Hunter and Gibb, a pair of British tourists, were waiting to hitch a ride nearby, and Okev picked them up in his car. Hunter, who knew some Hebrew, spoke with the driver.
Near Mitzpeh Ramon, Okev decided to make a rest stop. The two Britons also got out of the car to smoke a cigarette.
A short while later, without warning, Okev returned to the car, took out his pistol and shot the two, who stood very close by. Hunter was killed on the spot. Gibb was injured, but pretended to be dead, and thereby survived.
"I was called to the hospital a day after the incident in order to help Gibb remember and reenact the attack," recalled Gabi Orgel, who at the time headed the police's investigative psychology unit and handled the case. "She was in serious shock stemming from the fact that someone had tried to murder her, and of course suffered a lot of pain because of her injuries.
"We focused on the drive, and she went over the details of his behavior - whether he talked or not, where he kept the pistol. From what she said, I concluded that it was not a terrorist act, that it was not a robbery, that there had been no confrontation that led to anything. I concluded that it had something to do with the driver's psychological state.
"The testimony she gave completely changed the direction of the police investigation, which initially suspected that it [the shooting] had been terrorist or criminally motivated," Orgel said.
"From the initial ballistic analysis, I could tell that the shots were those of a professional from the security services," he continued. "The way the shots were fired was the method of confirming a kill - two initial shots and then another."
After his arrest, Okev said he realized he had shot two people only when he saw them bleeding on the ground and saw that he was holding a gun. He claimed he suffered from trauma as a result of his military service, during which he was involved in assassinating terrorists.
He was sentenced to a 20-year term instead of life imprisonment because the judges accepted the district psychiatrist's assessment that Okev's ability to understand or control his actions was limited, in part because of a brain defect.
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