Amirs latest lawyer wants out as client makes trial his forum

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JERUSALEM — Attorney Avraham Pachter Tuesday asked to step down as lawyer for Yigal Amir, the confessed assassin of Yitzhak Rabin.

Pachter asked the Tel Aviv District Court to release him for "reasons of conscience" just one day after taking on Amir's case.

Pachter, a former senior deputy Tel Aviv district attorney, was appointed by the court on Monday to lead the defense after another Amir lawyer, Mordechai Offri resigned.

Defense lawyer Jonathan Goldberg, who is believed to be taking a political line of defense and who has incurred the wrath of the judges for his apparent lack of knowledge of Israeli law and Hebrew, would have had to take second place to the experienced Pachter.

By law, any defendant facing a minimum 10-year sentence is entitled to a court-appointed lawyer. Goldberg has been retained by American and Canadian businessmen.

Pachter wrote a letter to the three-judge panel stating that Amir wishes to turn the trial into a political platform for his views and that he cannot go along with this.

Amir's family has asked lawyer Yitzhak Brand, a resident of the West Bank town of Emanuel, to represent him, and he is reportedly considering the offer.

A day after asking to step down, Pachter said he would seek a manslaughter plea for Amir, who has admitted in court shooting Rabin after a Nov. 4 peace rally in Tel Aviv. Amir has not entered any formal plea yet.

The court appointed Pachter after Amir's other lawyer, Goldberg, had difficulty speaking Hebrew while defending Amir in court.

Pachter is the third attorney attached to the Amir case. Mordechai Ofri resigned earlier in the week after saying he and Goldberg differed over defense tactics.

Amir, 25, a religious Jew and former law student at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, has also represented himself during this early phase in the trial.

Amir re-enacted the murder for the court, smiling as he did. He showed how he pointed his gun at Rabin and was overpowered by a police officer. When he asked for the officer to demonstrate, the policeman quickly knocked Amir to the ground.

Appearing for the prosecution Monday was Yoram Rubin, one of Rabin's bodyguards, who was wounded in the arm in the shooting. He said he hugged Rabin protectively after hearing the first of three shots, and both fell to the ground.

In another development, a police investigator testified that Amir, upon being jailed, asked for cake and wine to toast Rabin's slaying.