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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rabin Assassin Gets Life Prison Sentence

TEL AVIV -- An Israeli court sentenced Yitzhak Rabin's assassin to life in prison Wednesday, saying the defendant meticulously planned the murder and pulled the trigger with "amazing calm."

Yigal Amir, 25, showed no remorse and little emotion, saying he had to kill the prime minister to save the nation from further bloodshed.

Standing in the dock Wednesday for his final statement, one hand confidently resting on his hip, Amir said: "Everything I did, I did for God, for the Torah of Israel, the people of Israel and the land of Israel." The deeply religious Amir, dressed in a gray sweatshirt over a plain white shirt, dismissed the three-month proceedings as a "show trial" and complained that the court blocked all attempts to discuss his political motives.

The three-judge panel convicted Amir of murdering Rabin and injuring the prime minister's bodyguard, Yoram Rubin, who was hit in the shoulder at a Nov. 4 peace rally.

The court handed down the mandatory life sentence for the murder conviction and a six-year term for injuring the bodyguard. The court ordered the sentences to be served consecutively.

In Israel, a life prison term usually means a convict will serve between 16 and 25 years, with the sentence traditionally shortened by the president and additional time off for good behavior. However, a pardon by the president is not automatic.

Amir, a former law student, never faced the death penalty, which is reserved for Nazi war criminals.

The slightly built defendant, his black curly hair covered by a black skull cap, was flanked by police officers in the dock. He yawned from time to time, looked at the audience in the packed courtroom or smiled.

The defendant staunchly opposed Rabin's handover of land to the Palestinians, claiming it endangered Jewish lives. He said he shot Rabin to prevent more Jews from being killed by Palestinian militants.

"I was forced to commit this act [because] had I not, the damage to the people of Israel would have been irreversible," Amir said in his final statement.

Judge Edmond Levy tried to cut Amir short several times during the five-minute speech. Amir finally concluded by looking at the judge and saying, "May God help you."

Citing a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation of the defendant, Levy said Amir was neither mentally ill nor emotionally disturbed.

"The defendant has narcissistic and schizoid tendencies and sees the world in terms of black and white," Levy said.

Defense attorney Shmuel Flishman had aimed at a manslaughter conviction, arguing that Amir was so obsessed with removing Rabin from office that he was not in full control when he opened fire. Manslaughter carries a 20-year sentence.

Flishman said he would appeal the conviction and sentence to the Supreme Court.

It had appeared to be a closed case from the start: Amir was caught at the scene and has confessed to shooting Rabin in hopes of stopping his peace process with the Palestinians.

Still, the trial has transfixed Israelis, who were stunned and deeply shaken by Rabin's killing -- the first high-level assassination in their history. The broadcast of the shooting video in December was watched by a record TV audience. Wednesday's proceedings were broadcast life on Israeli TV and radio stations.

Leah Rabin, widow of the late premier, said she was not interested in hearing the verdict, however.

"I don't expect anything," she said Tuesday evening. "I will not watch the verdict. This man [Amir] doesn't interest me. All I know is that he killed my husband."

Amir told the court he did not mean to kill Rabin but only to paralyze him, a statement that was entered as a not guilty plea.

His sometimes chaotic defense has challenged police forensics, suggested there may have been another shooter and argued Amir was obsessed and therefore not responsible for his actions.