State firm on terrorists' extradition

Victim's mother petitioned against sending four suspects back to Jordan.

high court 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
high court 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The High Court of Justice is now set to hold a final hearing on a petition by a bereaved mother and Almagor, the Terror Victims Association against four convicted Jordanian terrorists, after the state and the petitioners submitted their final responses on Tuesday. At press time, the court had not yet set a date for the hearing. Government spokespersons have said the state wants to send four Jordanian terrorists, who were convicted of killing two IDF soldiers in 1990, back to Jordan by Thursday at the latest. Sarah Levy, one of the petitioners, is the mother of Pinhas Levy. The other soldier who was killed in a separate incident was Yehuda Liphshitz. In its final response before the hearing, the state maintained that the decision to send the terrorists back to Jordan was in keeping with a law passed in 1996, setting down the provisions for allowing a criminal of foreign citizenship who committed a crime in Israel, to serve out his sentence in the country of his citizenship. The law applies in all countries that signed the 1983 Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons and then passed domestic legislation in keeping with the convention. According to the state's representatives, attorneys Osnat Mandel and Danielle Marks, the law allows both the country that tried the criminal and the country in which the criminal is serving his sentence to lower the sentence or grant a pardon. According to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who promised Jordan's King Abdullah to transfer the prisoners to Jordan as a diplomatic gesture, Jordan will release the four in 18 months, after they have completed 18.5 years in prison. Jordan is not a signatory to the convention. However, the state said the transfer would be conducted in the context of a bilateral agreement between Jordan and Israel. The state also informed the court that the transfer of the prisoners was due to have taken place on Tuesday. "We can postpone the transfer until July 5 at the latest," the attorneys wrote. The petitioners rejected the state's response. Attorney Naftali Wurzberger accused the state of using deceit and vagueness to conceal the circumstances in which the decision to free the prisoners was taken. He also charged that the state had lied to Levy by saying the prisoners would be put in a jail while keeping from her the fact that they would remain in jail for only 18 more months. Israel sentenced the terrorists to life imprisonment and has never commuted the sentence. The attorney said that a correct definition of the Israeli law regarding the transfer of sentenced prisoners was that the country that received the prisoners could not pardon them.