Ha'aretz, Sunday, October 5, 1997
President pardons Jewish killersCommutes sentences of four other security prisoners
By Dalia Shehori and Joseph Algazi, Ha'aretz Correspondents
On the eve of the new year, President Ezer Weizman pardoned two Jewish security prisoners and commuted the sentences of four others, following the recommendation of Minister of Justice Tzachi Hanegbi.
Ze'ev Wolf and Gershon Hershkowitz were released from prison last Wednesday after serving only four years of a 10-year sentence. The two were convicted in July 1993 of lobbing a grenade into a butcher's market in the Old City of Jerusalem, killing an Arab trader. They were members of Kahane Chai, the radical group formed in memory of assassinated Kach leader Rabbi Meir Kahane.
In addition, Yoram Skolnik, a West Bank settler, had his life sentence shortened to 15 years. In March 1993, Skolnik shot dead Musa Abu Sabha while he was tied up and blindfolded. Abu Sabha had been on the run for three years and had stabbed Skolnik's friend before being caught.
Nir Efroni, who was sentenced to 22 years for killing an Arab gas station attendant in December 1984, will serve only 15 years as well. His partner in the crime, Eli Vanunu, had a 25-year sentence commuted to 20 years. Nachshon Wolf will serve only 13 years of a 15-year sentence for his involvement in shooting at a car in which Aziza Salem, an Arab woman, was killed in August 1990.
Aryeh Shumer, director general of the President's Residence, said Weizman's decision to pardon and shorten the sentences was unrelated to the recent release of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Shumer pointed out that last year, when the president announced pardons for a number of Palestinian women prisoners, he was asked to pardon or shorten the sentences of Jewish security prisoners. At the time, Weizman said he would consider such a move.
Meanwhile, a committee monitoring the conditions of Israeli-Arab prisoners appealed to Weizman to grant clemency to Arab prisoners serving sentences on security-related charges. The committee said Weizman's decision to pardon and commute sentences of Jewish convicts while ignoring Arab convicts was a form of discrimination
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