Israeli Who Killed British Tourist to Be Freed Early From 20-year Sentence

Daniel Okev was convicted of murdering British tourist Jeffrey Hunter and of seriously injuring his friend Charlotte Gibb 13 years ago.

Daniel Okev, who was convicted of murdering British tourist Jeffrey Hunter and of seriously injuring his friend Charlotte Gibb 13 years ago, is soon slated to be released after completing two-thirds of his 20-year sentence, an Israel Prison Service parole board decided on Monday.

The decision may be reversed if the Attorney General's Office decides to challenge it. Otherwise, Okev is expected to be released in a week.

Daniel Okev

The Justice Ministry said in a statement that "the parole board's decision was received by the prosecution today, but it has not yet been reviewed and therefore, we are unable to comment."

According to the terms approved by the parole board, Okev will have to appear at a police station once a week after being freed from Ma'asiyahu Prison. He will not be allowed to leave the country without permission from the parole board and will be under house arrest in the evening hours.

According to the parole board, which was chaired by retired judge Zvi Hertel, "throughout his years in prison, the prisoner committed no disciplinary violations and his behavior, both in prison and outside, including in his conduct and work, was exemplary. The prisoner's progress in rehabilitation has contributed to preparing him to live outside of prison."

The board also wrote that prison officials and social workers were "impressed by his honest remorse for the murder and aggravated assault he committed against innocents. The psychiatric treatment and diagnoses that the prisoner underwent during his incarceration have led him, he says, to understand the link between his military experience in a unit where he assassinated terrorists and the murder and aggravated assault ... which occurred without any reasonable cause."

The board therefore accepted his request for parole and ordered his sentence cut by a third.

Okev was convicted of killing Hunter and injuring Gibb in August 1997, after picking them up while they were hitchhiking from Eilat to Mitzpeh Ramon. During a rest stop, he shot them with his pistol with no warning. Hunter died from the shots and Gibb was wounded.

He was arrested nine days after the murder but claimed he had no recollection of either his decision to shoot his passengers or the actual shooting. He said he learned he had shot two people only after he recovered from the psychotic episode and saw the two lying bleeding on the ground - while he still held the pistol.

The Be'er Sheva District Court accepted the assessment of the district psychiatrist, who concluded that Okev's ability to understand his actions was limited due to a psychological problem stemming from a brain defect. The court therefore sentenced him to only 20 years instead of the life term normally given to murderers.

"The decision is correct and balanced," said Avi Amiram, Okev's defense attorney, of the parole board's ruling. "The board asked for a report by the Prison Service's chief psychiatrist, who concluded unequivocally that he constitutes no danger to himself or those around him."