New Lod District Court 370.
(photo credit: Yonah Jeremy Bob)
The Lod District Court on Sunday sentenced Yonatan Hiyalo to 20 years in prison
for the murder of Yaron Ayalon, who Hiyalo claimed, and the prosecution did not
deny, had raped him twice in the past.
Hiyalo, a 24-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli, has said Ayalon’s past raping of him plus a claim of self-defense
should serve as a complete defense to the murder charge.
He had added
that, after being raped, his Ethiopian background made it untenable for him to
live while Ayalon was still alive.
Hiyalo also said that Ayalon had
stolen money from him, physically abused him and used extortion against
Neither the prosecution nor the court accepted Hiyalo’s fundamental
argument: that his being raped justified or at least excused the
Both cited that several weeks, had passed between the rapes and
the murder, such that the two could not be connected and that there was no
viable self-defense claim.
Rather, the court said that despite Hiyalo’s
lawyer’s protest that a young Ethiopian man of his background would never report
being raped by another man to the authorities, Hiyalo’s recourse should have
been to bring charges against Ayalon.
However, in light of that
background and other factors, the 20-year prison sentence was a reduced sentence
from the life imprisonment that Hiyalo could have faced.
character witnesses, Hiyalo’s sister and her husband, as well as a Chabad rabbi
who observed him while under house arrest, all testified that he was a good,
calm person who posed no danger to society.
The murder occurred in May
2010 with Hiyalo strangling Ayalon and then brutally breaking his head with a
Hiyalo confessed to the crime and reenacted it for the police.