A hair found at the scene of the 2006 murder of a 13-year-old girl, for which a man protesting his innocence served over ten years in prison, may belong to the partner of the person he long said had really committed the crime, according to findings released Monday.
The results of a DNA test on the follicle were handed to the defense and prosecution in the retrial of Roman Zadorov in the murder of Tair Rada, which has gripped Israel with its dramatic turns.
The Health Ministry said in a statement that the hair sample was examined at the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine using advanced methods including looking at the Mitochondrial DNA. A request to sample the hair was made by Zadorov’s defense and required approval of then-attorney general Avichai Mandelblit.
Due to the circumstances, the ministry said it would provide no further information about the outcome of the test.
However, Hebrew media reported that of the 18 samples analyzed, one was found to possibly contain the DNA of a man named Adir Habani and not defendant Zadorov, who has always maintained his innocence.
The other 17 samples matched the DNA of the victim.
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.
The case gripped the country ever since, due both to the brutal way in which she was killed and persistent claims by some that it was not Zadorov who had committed the murder.
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, insisted 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 court order and was referred to as “O.K.”
Habani is the former boyfriend of Kravchenko and has alleged that she wore clothing belonging to him when she committed the murder.
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, reigniting speculation over the killing.
In 2019, Zadorov’s attorney Yarom Halevi filed a request for a retrial with the Supreme Court, claiming the existence of “a lot of new evidence that proves unequivocally that Zadorov did not murder the deceased and could not have murdered the deceased.”
In 2021, the State Prosecutor’s Office announced a retrial for Zadorov.