State Won't Oppose Adding a Prisoner to Yigal Amir's Cell

Convicted Rabin assassin opposes such a move, arguing that he should be transferred out of isolation completely.

The State Attorney's Office said yesterday it would not object to bringing another prisoner into the cell of Yigal Amir, the convicted assassin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Amir has been held in solitary confinement for the past 15 years. He is serving a life sentence for shooting and killing the prime minister as he was leaving a peace rally in Tel Aviv on November 4, 1995.

The Shin Bet security service objects to giving Amir a cellmate, saying he is still dangerous and should be kept in isolation.

Amir himself objects to sharing his cell with another inmate, arguing he should be taken out of isolation altogether and put together with the general prison population.

Yigal Amir

The State Attorney's Office's statement was made during a Supreme Court hearing on Amir's appeal against the District Court's decision in September to keep him in isolation for six more months.

Amir denied the security officials' fears that he "spread his doctrine in prison," and said he poses no danger to anyone. "I have no intention of indoctrinating others," he said. "I don't know what doctrine [they're] talking about. What I did was a one-time thing."

"Being cooped up with another person for weeks or months and then being separated would be intolerable," Amir said. "As far as I'm concerned it's worse than remaining in solitary confinement."

The Shin Bet told the court Amir could incite other prisoners if taken out of isolation. It also said Amir's life could be in danger if he was placed among other prisoners.

Before yesterday's hearing began, Amir's wife Larissa Trimbobler said Amir's prison conditions amounted to "torture."

Amir's public defense attorney Avy Moskovich said the Prison Service and Shin Bet were using security considerations as an excuse to keep his client in confinement. He said nobody had ever been kept in isolation for more than 15 years. Nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu was held in isolation for 11 years, and then allowed to mingle with the rest of the inmates during the day and return to his cell at night, he said.

"The risk to state security from the information Vanunu had was immeasurably greater than any risk Amir could pose," Moskovich said.

He told Justice Miriam Naor that coming out of isolation would help Amir to preserve his humanity. "As a religious person, he will be able to pray in a quorum, in a synagogue, something he has been deprived of for 15 years. He will be able to make small talk with the other prisoners ... Amir has no motivation to spread any doctrine or incite ... He is paying a heavy price for his act. Beyond that he has no agenda," the attorney said.

Prosecutor Ori Keidar said Amir's requests have been examined by courts before, as well as the opinions of the security and prison services, which object to placing Amir in a regular prison wing.

On Sunday, the Physicians for Human Rights organization called on Israel to end the solitary confinement of Amir.