President Shimon Peres has commuted the sentence of a prisoner who had appealed to have a 10-months jail sentence commuted to six months of community service.

He acted on Thursday in response to rare humanitarian circumstances and at the recommendation of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

The appellant, who remains anonymous and who is referred to only by the initial R., is undergoing a gender change process from female to male, and commenced “his” sentence in solitary confinement, totally separated from other prisoners. As a male, he cannot be placed with women, even though he was born a female, and he cannot be placed with men, because the sex change is not complete. Prison authorities had had no choice other than to place him alone. The total isolation has had an extremely bad effect on his mental health.

To protect the privacy of the prisoner, the president’s office declined to go into further detail, other than to state that Peres thoroughly familiarized himself with the case before signing the order commute the sentence.

Because of the exceptional circumstances that would have forced R. to serve the whole of his sentence in solitary confinement, the Supreme Court also recommended that the sentence be lightened.

Three-and-a-half years have passed since the prisoner committed the armed robbery for which he was eventually sentenced.

The prisoner spent two years under house arrest and is presently not considered to be dangerous to the public. The person whom he robbed is aware of his situation and has raised no objection to leniency.

The president’s legal adviser clarified that this was not a precedent for future cases involving sick or disabled individuals.

In this case there were specific humane considerations to be taken into account. The legal adviser also noted that R. was not pardoned but given a lighter sentence.

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