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Avishai Raviv Pronounced Not Guilty

In a unanimous 3-0 decision, the Jerusalem Magistrates Court yesterday exonerated GSS informant Avishai Raviv of having advance knowledge of the murder of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.
First Publish: 4/1/2003, 11:28 AM

In a unanimous 3-0 decision, the Jerusalem Magistrates Court yesterday exonerated General Security Services (GSS) informant Avishai Raviv (code-named “Champagne”) of any advance knowledge of the November 1995 murder of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. He was found not guilty on all counts, including that of “not preventing a crime,” and “not preventing the murder.”

The three judges - Court President Amnon Cohen, Aryeh Romanov and Orit Afel-Gabai - announced the acquittal in a 61-page decision, only a summary of which, highlighting Raviv’s contribution to the General Security Services, was read in court today.

The court stated that though Raviv was “a dedicated agent,” he displayed “dangerous and troublesome behaviors.” The court also acknowledged the fact that the fashion in which Raviv handled himself in his on-going acquaintance with future assassin Yigal Amir was “problematic.”

According to the ruling, Raviv’s impression from his meetings with Amir was that Amir’s main goal was to cause harm to Arabs, not Jews. Even though Amir’s decision to kill Rabin was reached during his period of friendship with Raviv, the judges stated that no hint of this plan could be found in any of the reports Raviv transmitted to his “handlers.”

The court found that on the night of the murder, scant hours after it occurred, Raviv was hastily summoned to a meeting with a number of GSS operatives in Jerusalem to give them whatever information he had on Amir. Raviv led them to believe that he had never heard Amir talk favorably about harming Rabin. He also took the opportunity to volunteer to help the investigation by being placed under "arrest" and in a cell with Amir, with his mission defined as “cozying up to the suspected murderer.” Though this is in fact what happened, the conversation between the two friends caused some “caution lights” to light up in the minds of his handlers, who became concerned that Raviv had hid information from them.

These suspicions led to Raviv being interrogated by the GSS. Two agents, first "Yoni" and then "Moshe," handled the interrogation. The two wrote a memo based on what was said that night, and it became the central piece of evidence implying that Raviv really did know in advance of Amir's plans.

MK Michael Eitan (Likud), one of the strongest advocates of a public inquiry into the events surrounding the Rabin assassination, told Arutz-7 that though he accepts the verdict, many open questions remain. “This was a personal, legal vindication of one man,” said Eitan, “but the entire public interest issue still remains a tightly closed secret. No one has investigated the people on behalf of whom GSS agent Raviv was operating. No one has investigated the incitement against Jewish citizens and Arabs living in Judea and Samaria. No one has investigated the smear campaign against Jewish leaders that came before and after the murder. All this and much more remains closed and shut.”

Eitan added that this was in fact a “strange trial” in which neither the prosecution nor the defense really wanted to touch upon the elements being discussed: “It is impossible for a court to come to a serious conclusion under these conditions."

The court ruling listed nine different reasons for the acquittal. Among them the fact the Raviv was described as childish, with “very low self-esteem and an inability to distinguish between important and unimportant.” A psychiatrist testified that he suffered from “personality disorders,” which led the court to the conclusion that he was a weak and dependent soul who wished only to curry favor with those in positions of respect by giving false information and regularly lying to the GSS, his family, friends and the media.

Deputy Minister of Education Tzvi Hendel told Arutz-7 today that the fact the Raviv was put on trial only on charges of “not preventing a crime” was cowardly to begin with. Hendel said that the State Prosecutor was “afraid of the GSS,” and therefore did not include charges on issues of Raviv’s provocations and instigation against Jewish citizens and Arabs living in Judea and Samaria, or the smear campaign against Jewish leadership - all of which were done at the behest and with the knowledge of his GSS handlers.

Mr. Hendel added that Raviv was "a sick provocateur who did all he could to sow hatred for the Jews living in Judea and Samaria amidst other Israeli citizens. The GSS, supported by the State Prosecution, is apparently afraid that if Raviv the provocateur was put to a real trial, it would have to include its entire system as well, and is therefore doing all it can to prevent the truth from coming out. But the truth will come out.”

Labor Party MK Ophir Pines said that “one would hope that the compete exoneration of Raviv will shut a lid, once and for all, on all the outrageous conspiracy theories, hallucinations and delusions of the right wing, trying to blame the GSS for having a part in the contemptible murder.”

The State Prosecution, apparently peeved by the ruling, reacted cautiously, with a spokesman saying that a formal response would only be given after officials "carefully read the judgment." He said that the prosecution may yet appeal the court's claim that evidence fell short of evidentiary standards for a criminal case.

On the night of the assassination - Nov. 4,1995 - one witness said that he was standing near Raviv following the pro-Oslo rally at which Rabin had just finished speaking. After the shots rang out, Raviv reportedly declared, "That was Yigal Amir!" Approximately a half-hour later, Israel Radio reported that it had just received a phone call from an organization calling itself "Sword of David," declaring: "We missed him this time, but we'll get him next time." Sword of David was later revealed to be a fictitious "right-wing" group founded by Raviv under the auspices of the GSS. Several people testified in the months afterwards that Raviv actually goaded Amir into the act.

It should be noted that Margalit Har-Shefi, a friend and fellow student of Yigal Amir, was sentenced to nine months in prison for her purported advance knowledge of, and failure to prevent, the assassination.