Ethiopian man who murdered his alleged rapist asks Rivlin for pardon

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Ethiopian man who murdered his alleged rapist and abuser, and who has served five years of a 12-year sentence, has asked Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to pardon him.

In 2010 Yonatan Heilo, now 29, killed Yaron Eilin, a powerful member of the Ethiopian community in Netanya who allegedly had abused him emotionally, physically and sexually for years. Eilin also allegedly raped and blackmailed Heilo on multiple occasions.

Convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison, Heilo has served five years. The Supreme Court last month rejected an appeal claiming he acted in self-defense but, according to Haaretz, downgraded his charge from murder to manslaughter and reduced the sentence to 12 years.

Earlier this month, 65 Knesset members in a letter to Rivlin called on the Israeli president to pardon Heilo.

Heilo’s attorney Alon Eizenberg sent the letter requesting a pardon to Rivlin on Sunday.

“As someone who has seen his pain and suffering and that of his family, I turn to you with this request, esteemed president, as Yonatan Heilo’s mouthpiece, to weigh considerations of kindness and compassion and to grant him mercy,” Eizenberg wrote.

“Society has no need to distance him from its ranks, and it’s possible to make do with the five years he has already spent behind bars. Yonatan Heilo is a young man who has undergone greater trouble than he could bear. In life, the deceased abuse him, and in death, he has sentenced him to grow up behind prison walls,” he also wrote.

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