Rabin murder accomplice refuses to testify in informant's trial

Friday, July 26, 2002

JERUSALEM -- The brother of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's killer refused to testify Thursday in the trial of a former secret service informant, saying he did not recognize the authority of prosecutors who "cooperate with the enemy."

Hagai Amir, brother of convicted assassin Yigal Amir, is serving a 16-year jail term for complicity in Rabin's 1995 assassination.

Like his brother, Hagai strongly opposed the 1993 Oslo, Norway, peace agreement under which the Palestinian Authority was established with its own armed police force. The brothers view the Israeli government and its institutions as having forfeited their legitimacy by having signed the accord.

"I am not prepared to cooperate with the state attorney's office which I view as a body that cooperates with the enemy," Israeli media quoted Hagai Amir as telling the Jerusalem Magistrates' Court before being removed from the packed courtroom.

Three-year postponement

Hagai was brought to the court to testify in the trial of Avishai Raviv, a former informant for the Shin Bet secret service code-named "Agent Champagne." He was indicted in 1999, but his trial opened Sunday after a three-year postponement while his lawyer prepared a defense.

Raviv, sent to infiltrate Jewish ultranationalist groups, is accused of being forewarned by Yigal Amir of his plan to assassinate Rabin and failing to pass the information to his Shin Bet handlers. Raviv, who could receive up to three years in prison, has said he did not know of Amir's plans to kill the prime minister.

Yigal Amir shot Rabin three times in the back after a peace rally in Tel Aviv on Nov. 4, 1995. Rabin died of his wounds.

In his brief comments to the court, Hagai Amir said his testimony would have been useless anyway since he had had little contact with Raviv.

"The very fact that I was brought here makes me suspicious and proves that this is a fake trial," he was quoted by Israeli media as saying.

After his removal from the courtroom, the trial continued behind closed doors.

Another accomplice in the Rabin assassination was released from jail 3 1/2 months early Wednesday as part of efforts to relieve overcrowding in jails, officials said.

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