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Lawsuit to Claim: Peres Lacks Power to Pardon Terrorists

Bereaved brother appeals against terrorist release. “Let ‘no forgiveness’ mean no pardon,” he urges Peres.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 10/16/2011, 5:37 PM

Yaron and Efrat Ungar
Yaron and Efrat Ungar
Ungar and Desberg families

An attorney whose sister was murdered by terrorists has announced plans to appeal to the Supreme Court over her killers’ release. The appeal follows an emergency lawsuit brought by several relatives of terror victims.

Attorney Zev Desberg has also appealed to President Shimon Peres over the planned release. “If you do not forgive the terrorists who stand to be released – don’t pardon them,” he wrote. Peres has said that he will sign off on the terrorists’ pardons, but with a special clause noting that their acts have not been forgiven.

Desberg informed Peres that in his planned lawsuit, he will argue that Peres does not have the power to pardon the terrorists in any case.  “In the suit I will argue, among other things, that ‘Basic Law: The President of the State’ authorizes you to pardon and forgive a prisoner who comes before you with a bowed head and requests the victim’s forgiveness and the public’s forgiveness. And you, with your stature, weigh the issue of whether this prisoner is worthy of pardon."

“This is different from a collective pardon of terrorists that has been forced on Israel. There is no honor in pardon here; there is no request for forgiveness and none is granted.

“The lawsuit we file will protect your honor,” Desberg assured the president. “We will argue that you are not authorized to give collective pardons, that the lawmakers did not authorize and did not require the presidency to debase itself by freeing prisoners when there is no regret or forgiveness.”

Desberg had a suggestion for Peres as well. “Your honor should add to the letter of pardon, that the pardon is conditional on no citizen or soldier of Israel being kidnapped in the future. The kidnapping of a citizen or soldier would render the pardon legally void,” he said.

Desberg’s sister Efrat Ungar and her husband Yaron were shot and murdered in 1996 as they drove near the city of Beit Shemesh. They were survived by two young sons.

The Ungar family filed suit against the PA in United States courts over the double slaying. The case was settled several months ago.