Yigal Amir, the 25-year-old law student on trial for the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, agreed this week to undergo a psychiatric examination.
At Thursday’s court session, the judge in the case appointed two new lawyers to represent Amir, after two others asked to step down from the trial.
During the day’s deliberations in the Tel Aviv District Court, Judge Edmond Levy said the psychiatric examination would help ensure that Amir received a fair trial.
“We want to make sure the defendant doesn’t have mental problems,” he said, “so the court will know that justice was served.”
The defense has never tried to argue that Amir was insane. But neither Amir nor the lawyers objected to the proposal.
Amir said that the opened fire on Rabin to stop the peace process with the Palestinians.
He also said his act was justified on religious grounds, citing an edict that it is permissible to kill someone to prevent that person from killing Jews.
But he also stated that he only intended to paralyze Rabin, thereby removing him from the political arena – not to kill him.
The prosecution on Thursday screened the amateur video depicting Rabin’s assassination on the night of Nov. 4.
The video was shot by Tel Aviv accountant Roni Kempler, who also testified in court.
The footage showed Rabin walking down a flight of steps to his waiting car as he left a peace rally in Tel Aviv.
Amir, who is seen earlier in the video sitting beside a planter, gets up, moves behind Rabin and stretching out his right hand, fires three times. His face is not in the frame when he opens fire.
The defense asked Levy to recess the trial to give the new lawyers time to review the case.
The two attorneys, Gabi Shahar and Shmuel Fleishman, had been brought on to help attorney Jonathan Goldberg, an American immigrant who does not have a full command of Hebrew.
Two previous attorneys, Mordechai Ofri and Avraham Pachter, resigned from the case, saying Amir was trying to use the trial as a political platform to air his own views.