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Move comes after court rejects appeal against move

After 11 years, convicted killer Zadorov freed to house arrest ahead of retrial

‘There is only one truth, everything will be okay,’ says man who many believe was wrongly convicted of 2006 murder of 13-year-old schoolgirl Tair Rada

Roman Zadorov outside Shata Prison in northern Israel after being released to house arrest ahead of a retrial, August 26, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Roman Zadorov outside Shata Prison in northern Israel after being released to house arrest ahead of a retrial, August 26, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Eleven years after his conviction, the High Court of Justice on Thursday ruled in favor of the release to house arrest of Roman Zadorov, currently awaiting a retrial in the 2006 murder of a 13-year-old schoolgirl.

Following the decision, Zadorov stepped out of Shata Prison on Thursday evening and told reporters: “There is only one truth, everything will be okay.”

He was then taken to the northern city of Katzrin, where he will remain under house arrest at his mother-in-law’s home.

Zadorov was greeted by his wife Olga and their 15-year-old son, Leon, whom he has barely ever met. Other relatives and friends also came.

“Thank you for being here,” Olga Zadorov said before her husband exited the prison. “We didn’t think this day would come, we have been looking forward to it and I am excited for the children, for the family and for Roman.”

Earlier in the day, justices rejected an appeal against Zadorov’s release from the state prosecution, upholding a lower court’s release order and allowing Zadorov to be sent home by the end of the day. He will be monitored with an electronic bracelet.

Roman Zadorov (right) hugs his wife Olga outside Shata Prison in northern Israel after being released to house arrest ahead of a retrial, August 26, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Zadorov is set to be tried again on the basis of new evidence, after more than a decade behind bars for the murder of Tair Rada, which he maintains he did not commit.

The Nazareth District Court had last week okayed Zadorov’s release to house arrest with electronic monitoring, but prosecutors had appealed the move, saying that he was a flight risk as well as a danger to the public, and should therefore remain behind bars until the end of proceedings against him.

High Court justice Alex Stein, however, dismissed the concerns, saying the close monitoring was sufficient.

“A lack of violence by [Zadorov] during his many years in prison and his proper conduct as a worker in the prison welding workshop also carry weight,” he said.

Roman Zadorov (center) steps out of Shata Prison in northern Israel after being released to house arrest ahead of a retrial, August 26, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)

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 that he had been wrongly convicted.

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.

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

Tair Rada. (YouTube screenshot)

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 that 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.

Olga Zadorov (right), the wife of convicted killer Roman Zadorov, and their son Leon stand outside Shata Prison in northern Israel as Roman is set to be released to house arrest ahead of a retrial, August 26, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)

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.”

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 could match that of a former boyfriend of Kravchenko, reigniting speculation over the killing.

In 2019, Zadorov’s attorney Yarom 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 that his version was unreliable and an attempt to frame his former lover, the Ynet news site reported in 2018.

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