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Convicted killer of Tair Rada, 13, to be freed to house arrest ahead of retrial

State prosecution considers appeal against release of Roman Zadorov, who has spent over a decade in prison for murder of schoolgirl

Roman Zadorov arrives for a court hearing at the District Court in Nazareth, on August 3, 2021. (Gil Eliyahu/Flash90)
Roman Zadorov arrives for a court hearing at the District Court in Nazareth, on August 3, 2021. (Gil Eliyahu/Flash90)

A man who has been jailed since he was convicted for the murder 15 years ago of a 13-year-old schoolgirl was on Tuesday ordered released to house arrest ahead of a retrial of the case that horrified the nation.

Roman Zadorov has always maintained he is not guilty of killing Tair Rada in 2006.

Nazareth District Court ordered Zadorov’s release under restrictions that include requiring him to wear an electronic ankle bracelet that tracks his location.

The agreement came after Zadorov asked that he be freed ahead of the retrial, which was announced last month.

His attorney Yoram Halevi asked for a ten-day delay before the release was carried out in order to raise the NIS 150,000 ($46,500) bail required and make other arrangements to meet the terms for Zadorov’s house arrest, which include being under constant guard.

“I feel a great satisfaction, but the goal is to acquit him,” Halevi said. He explained the Zadorov will spend the time of his house arrest at his wife’s parent’s home in the northern town of Katzrin.

Tair Rada (YouTube screenshot)

Zadorov’s wife, Olga, said after the hearing that it was “a positive decision.”

“It is hard to put into words the joy and happiness I had, and certainly for Roman,” she told media at the courthouse.

“I have not fully digested it, first of all, because physically he still hasn’t come out,” she said. “There are many things to organize according to the conditions of the house arrest.”

Olga Zadorov (C), the wife of Roman Zadorov, arrives for a court hearing at the District Court in Nazareth, on August 3, 2021 (David Cohen/Flash90)

Prosecuting attorney Sharon Har-Zion said they will decide whether to appeal after studying the decision, but they believe Zadorov to be dangerous.

“We believe that the accused is a danger and therefore it is fitting that he remains in remand until the end of proceedings,” Har-Zion said.

In its decision, the court said it found that the state’s argument against releasing Zadorov on the grounds that new evidence would not be enough to overturn the conviction was “in direct contrast” to the decision to hold a retrial.

Last month the State Prosecutor’s Office announced a retrial for Zadorov, who was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Rada despite his repeated assertions he had been wrongly convicted.

Rada’s murder case has long gripped the country, due both to the brutal way in which she was killed and continuing claims by some that it was not Zadorov who committed the murder.

Zadorov has spent more than a decade in prison since he was found guilty of the brutal killing of the teenager. The indictment against him has not been dropped.

Rada was found dead in a bathroom stall in her school in Katzrin in the Golan Heights in 2006, with slashes to her neck, stab wounds across her body and severe blows to her head.

Shortly after the murder, Zadorov, who was employed at the school at the time as a maintenance worker, was arrested and charged with the killing.

Two weeks after his arrest, police announced Zadorov had confessed to Rada’s murder and reenacted the attack for investigators. But a day later, Zadorov’s defense attorney announced that his client had recanted, claiming his confession and reenactment were coerced and included incorrect information.

In 2010, nearly four years after he was arrested, the Nazareth District Court sentenced him to life in prison.

His lawyers, along with thousands of vocal members of the public, insist that Zadorov was framed for an act he didn’t commit and that the real murderer was Olga Kravchenko, whose identity was initially gagged by a court order and was referred to as “O.K.”

Yarom Halevi, attorney of convicted murderer Roman Zadorov seen at a court hearing at the District Court in Nazareth, on August 3, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Following a DNA analysis by investigators, the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute announced in 2018 that a hair found on Rada’s body did not belong to Zadorov but instead matched that of the former boyfriend of Kravchenko, reigniting speculation on who committed the killing.

In 2019, Zadorov’s attorney Halevi filed a request for a trial with the Supreme Court, claiming the existence of “a lot of new evidence that proves unequivocally that Roman did not murder the deceased and could not have murdered the deceased.”

The Supreme Court previously rejected the former boyfriend’s testimony about Kravchenko while police concluded his version was unreliable and an attempt to frame his former lover, the Ynet news site reported in 2018.

In May, in his final ruling as a Supreme Court justice, Hanan Melcer said that based on the evidence presented by his attorneys, there was sufficient reasonable doubt to exonerate Zadorov.

According to Channel 13 news, that decision was linked at least in part to evidence concerning a footprint found close to Rada’s body, which was said not to have been left by Zadorov.

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