יונתן היילו
Yonatan Heilo
Photo: Ori Davidovitch
Yonatan Heilo

Rape victim, imprisoned for killing of attacker, found dead

Body of Yonatan Heilo, imprisoned for eight years for killing his rapist Yaron Ayalin in 2010, found at Netanya beach; circumstances of death examined at Institute of Forensic Medicine

Gilad Morag, Raanan Ben Tzur |
Published: 11.30.20 , 17:37
Yonatan Heilo, a rape victim who was imprisoned for killing his attacker and was released early after his case raised public outcry, was found dead on Monday at a Netanya beach.
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  • His body was transferred to the Abu Kabir National Forensic Institute that will examine the circumstances of his death, including the option of suicide.
    יונתן היילויונתן היילו
    Yonatan Heilo
    (Photo: Ori Davidovitch)
    Heilo was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2013 after he was convicted of the murder of Yaron Ayalin in 2010.
    During the trial, the judges determined Heilo had diminished responsibility for the murder after learning that Ayalin raped Heilo twice.
    In 2016, the Supreme Court downgraded Heilo's conviction to a reduced offense of manslaughter and sweetened his sentence to 12 years in prison.
    In the 2016 sentence, the Supreme Court accepted the claim that Heilo feared the deceased and was paralyzed and scared for his life as a result of being a long-term victim of Ayalin's actions. The judges also determined that the prisoner was suffering from mental distress due to severe and prolonged abuse.
    חוף פולג שבו נמצאה גופתו של יונתן היילוחוף פולג שבו נמצאה גופתו של יונתן היילו
    Poleg Beach in Netanya where Heilo's body was spotted
    (Photo: Yair Sagie)
    Over the years, there have been many calls to pardon Heilo, including an activist group that took on the cause. In 2016, 65 MKs signed a pardon for Heilo, initiated by MK Yoel Hasson of the Zionist Union.
    In November 2017, President Reuven Rivlin decided to commute Heilo's punishment and convert part of his sentence into a suspended sentence, so that he could stand before the parole board.
    During the parole board hearing, however, a professional opinion presented to the court said Heilo did not take part in a prisoner rehabilitation program.
    The prosecution, which objected to his release at the time, said that as long as Heilo takes part in a meaningful program, they would reconsider their position.
    Heilo was released from prison in July 2018.
    Yonatan Heilo in courtYonatan Heilo in court
    Yonatan Heilo in court
    Several months after his release, Heilo repeatedly violated his parole, risking more prison time. He quarreled with one of his neighbors, and it was alleged that he "had drunk alcohol, smashed bottles on the ground and placed threatening notes on the door of the neighbor's house."
    The Prisoner Rehabilitation Authority then renounced Heilo following for violating his parole, and the committee decided to send him for another year in prison of which he served nine.
    Five months after being released from prison for the second time, Heilo said in an interview with Ynet earlier this month he seeks to better himself and stay out of incarceration.
    "I want to get a hold of myself this time, be a person," Heilo said. "I've been through very trying times. I want another chance to rehabilitate myself or move to a kibbutz. I still have two and half years as a licensed felon and I would want people to give me a framework to work and function in."
    יונתן היילויונתן היילו
    Yonatan Heilo after his release from prison
    (Photo: Ori Davidovitch)
    Heilo told about his struggles to assimilate back into society after his first imprisonment.
    "I struggled a lot, I didn’t expect to go back, I already started to work and to get used to living outside," he said. "I was very, very frustrated. I was in for eight years that did not go smoothly for me, I've been through immense suffering, but these eight months were harder than the eight years [in prison]."
    "When they closed the doors on me, I became very confused, neurotic, I didn't know what to do and suicidal thoughts sprung up. I cut my wrists, I cut myself several times. In the end, I told myself that if I pulled through eight years, I will pull through these times. I told myself that when I get out, I will get a hold of myself and do everything to rehabilitate myself."
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