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News Briefs 1

Rabin's Confessed Killer Says He Obeyed Religious Law

The Washington Post

Yigal Amir, a 25-year-old law student, declared in a raucous court hearing Monday that he gunned down Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as an obligation under religious law.

"I acted alone," he said, "but maybe with God."

Asked by Tel Aviv magistrate Dan Arbel whether he was acquainted with the Ten Commandments, Amir replied scornfully, "If this is what you know of the Bible it is very sad."

Speaking loudly and rapidly over angry interjections by Israeli reporters, Amir gave a brief self-portrait of a man infused with certitude that Rabin's government had taken a divinely forbidden path in relinquishing holy Jewish land. That view, which is not uncommon on the Israeli national religious right, became lethal when combined with Amir's radical fringe belief that any means were permitted to dislodge the prime minister from office.

"I did not commit the act to stop the peace process, because there is no such thing," Amir said. "It is a process of war, and the murder was my obligation according to `halakha' (religious law)."

Very few religious authorities, even on the hard political right, agree. Former Ashkenazi chief rabbi Avraham Shapira, for example, has issued a controversial ruling that Jewish soldiers must disobey army orders to uproot Jewish settlements from the West Bank. But he said in a statement Sunday that the man who killed Rabin was a murderer without conscience or Jewish morality.

Red-Faced Mounties Failed to Get Their Man Quickly Enough

Los Angeles Times

Mortified officials of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police admitted Monday that Mounties assigned to guard Prime Minister Jean Chretien made errors in judgment and violated security procedures in an incident in which a man armed with a knife broke into Chretien's official residence in Ottawa.

The intruder was confronted by the prime minister's wife, Aline, who locked herself and her husband in their bedroom and summoned police from a guardhouse on the mansion grounds. The Chretiens were unhurt in the Sunday morning incident.

But RCMP Commissioner Phil Murray said too much time elapsed -- seven minutes -- between Mrs. Chretien's call and the arrest of the intruder, in part because the Mounties opted to surround the house first to prevent any escape. He called that an error in judgment and a violation of operational procedures, which call for protection of the prime minister as the top priority.

On Monday, authorities charged Andre Dallaire, a 34-year-old convenience store clerk from a Montreal suburb, with attempted murder, breaking and entering, possession of a weapon and being unlawfully in a dwelling.

"You can assume from the charge that the (prosecutors) and the police believe there is at least evidence of an attempt to kill the prime minister," Dallaire's lawyer, John Hale, told reporters after a brief court appearance at which the defendant was ordered to undergo a 30-day psychiatric assessment.

At a news conference earlier in the day in Ottawa, the Canadian capital, Murray and Bryan McConnell -- who heads the prime minister's security detail -- promised improved security at the mansion as well as a thorough investigation of the incident.

"I'm still considerably upset about it. It's quite unacceptable," Murray said of the Mounties' performance.

He declined to discuss the suspect or his potential motive.