Peres pardons Kuntar ahead of prisoner swap with Hezbollah

2008-07-15 19:54:09 GMT       2008-07-16 03:54:09 (Beijing Time)       xinhuanet

JERUSALEM, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Israeli President Shimon Peres pardons Lebanese killer Samir Kuntar on Tuesday ahead of the prisoner swap with Lebanon's Hezbollah, scheduled for Wednesday.

In a letter addressed to Israeli Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, the president wrote "I want to stress the obvious - my decision does not in any way constitute forgiveness for the vile acts of this murderer. I do not forgive and do not forget." according to a statement from the spokesperson of the president.

"I have reached this difficult decision after speaking with the Shahar, Keren and Haran families - the families of the victims of the despicable murderer Samir Kuntar. I, together with all the people of Israel, feel their pain, which is unbearable," Peres continued in his letter.

Kuntar was sentenced to life plus 40 years in prison for murdering three family members and a police officer in Nahariya in1979.

Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli cabinet gave its final approval for the return of five Lebanese prisoners and the bodies of 199 militants to Hezbollah in exchange for two Israel Defense Forces reservists whom the Lebanese militia abducted in July 2006.

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