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Sunday 17 December 2017

'If he is sent to prison, there is possibility he may attempt suicide'

The following are some extracts from the letter sent by David Norris to the Judges of the High Court in Jerusalem. Case of Ezra Yizhak, dated August 29, 1997.

Respected Judges of the High Court of Israel, I approach the court with a humble plea that my voice may be listened to in the case of Ezra Yizhak . . . First of all, I have known Mr Yizhak for the last 23 years. He has been a close and valued personal friend since we met in Dublin, December 1975. Since then I have been a frequent visitor to his home in Jerusalem as he has been to mine in Dublin. He is very highly regarded by a wide circle of my friends. I know him to be an intelligent, honest, trustworthy, good and moral person for whom the present difficulty is quite uncharacteristic.

'He is a very good son to his mother who is now becoming elderly and to whom he is devoted. He is a kind and caring brother and uncle. I could cite many instances of his practical goodness as a human being. In particular, I am personally aware of the sacrifices he made in caring for two friends who died from AIDS.

I am a serious and respected person both within my own community and, to some extent at least, internationally. I am 53 years old, a former senior lecturer in the University of Dublin, Trinity College; a member of the Upper House of the Irish Parliament and chairman of the James Joyce Centre in Dublin . . .

Although not a citizen of Israel, indeed not even Jewish, I am a strong supporter of Israel and have visited the country very frequently . . .

I would like to stress that should the court find it possible to show mercy to Mr Yizhak I am more than happy to act as a personal guarantor for his continued good behaviour and to guarantee absolutely that there will be no reoffence.

The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia adopted the same principle in Rex versus Baton. In their study of sentencing law and practice in the state of Victoria, Fox and Feinberg note that:

"Where the victim not only consents but could be considered the instigator or at least a willing participant, a sentence towards the lower end of the range will be appropriate."

Secure in the knowledge Mr Yizhak will not offend again in the same way, that he is prepared to make financial compensation available to the young man involved, that lasting and perhaps permanent damage will be done to his psychological and material welfare by being imprisoned, by virtue of the fact there is a possibility he may attempt suicide in prison, by virtue of the fact that his elderly mother's principal support will be removed, I earnestly beg that the court may see the possibility of securing justice not by sending him to prison but by imposing a non-custodial sentence."

Irish Independent

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