Soldier Jailed for Yawning During Rabin Ceremony Given Pardon, Early Release

Sgt. Almog Amran was sentenced for showing contempt for the memorial when yawn interrupted base commander's speech.

An Israel Defense Forces soldier who was jailed for yawning at a memorial ceremony for slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was pardoned by Israel Air Force commander Ido Nehoshtan over the weekend and released after spending 10 days in jail. He is expected to return to his base today.

Sgt. Almog Amran's commanders shortened his 21-day jail term after he submitted a pardon request.

Amran was sentenced on charges of showing contempt for the memorial ceremony after base commander Col. Ilan Bodinger caught him yawning during his speech at the Ramat David air force base and stopped speaking for several seconds. Amran, an aircraft technician who was sitting in the fourth row, said his yawn was not meant insultingly or maliciously.

"The commanders realized that my son didn't have any malicious intent, and the base commander played a decisive role in his release, and I appreciate that," said Amran's mother, Tali, who spoke with Bodinger before the commanders agreed to free her son.

She said her son thinks the jail term was an excessive response to a yawn, adding that the other prisoners knew exactly what he was in for.

"They all knew who he was and why he was jailed, and laughed about it," said Tali Amran. "But it still bothers Almog that this thing stuck to him. He feels he was done an injustice and that the imprisonment was unnecessary."