Husband suspected of killing pregnant wife released on bail as case falters

Husband suspected of killing pregnant wife released on bail as case falters

Police say Ala Al-Katnani still a suspect in last month’s death of wife Roan, but release him after forensic evidence proves inconclusive

The Bedouin city of Rahat in southern Israel, April 8, 2019.  (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
The Bedouin city of Rahat in southern Israel, April 8, 2019. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Police released on Monday a man suspected of killing his pregnant wife earlier this month in the southern city of Rahat.

Roan Al-Katnani, 29, was hospitalized on June 12 at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba with severe head injuries. She died early on June 14. Her fetus did not survive.

Police arrested her husband, Ala Al-Katnani, 32, for allegedly beating her, leading her to fall to her death in their home in the Bedouin town. His cousin Mamdouh Al-Katnani was also arrested on suspicion of helping Ala.

The husband has denied hitting his wife, and told her family members she fell in the shower. The couple has three children aged 5 to 9.

The case reignited concern about a spate of domestic violence that has seen dozens of Israeli women killed by their partners in recent years.

Roan Al-Katnani, right, and her father Shahade Al-Karanawi. (Social media)

But as the investigation into Al-Katnani’s death progressed, difficulties in obtaining evidence against the suspects forced police to reduce the accusation against the husband from murder to reckless manslaughter.

While the two men remain suspects in the case, they were released from jail Monday after a remand by the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court expired.

They were ordered not to enter Rahat for 21 days, and not to communicate with others involved in the case for 30 days while the investigation continues.

Each put up a bond of NIS 10,000 ($2,900).

Roan Al-Katnani died early on June 14 at Soroka Hospital, two days after her hospitalization. A forensic examination failed to conclusively determine what caused the fall that led to her head injuries.

Illustrative: An ambulance outside the Soroka hospital in the southern Israeli town of Beersheba, December 23, 2013. (FLASH90)

Police said the husband reported her injury to police at 1:30 a.m. on the morning of June 12.

The husband then called his wife’s mother at 3:30 a.m. and said his wife had “fallen in the shower and was bleeding from her head.”

Roan’s father told reporters that his wife immediately responded: “You killed my daughter.”

The father said the couple had problems in their relationship.

“She would come to us and say, ‘Dad, he doesn’t treat me respectfully,’” the father told Haaretz. “I told her she has children and she should try to take care of the house, and that it would all work out.”

Eleven Israeli women have been killed this year allegedly by somebody known to them.

Thirteen Israeli women were murdered in 2019 by someone known to them. In 2018, 25 women were murdered in such incidents, the highest number in years, prompting a string of protests and calls for authorities to take action against the increasing rates of violence against women. Many of those women filed police complaints prior to their deaths out of concern for their safety.

Israelis protest against violence towards women, in Tel Aviv on June 1, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Police and social service organizations have reported a major rise in domestic violence complaints since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

Thousands of people protested in Tel Aviv last month against the trend, calling for government action to stem violence against women.

Demonstration organizers said most of the NIS 250 million ($71 million) approved in 2017 for national programs to prevent domestic violence have not been allocated.

Also in May, the Welfare and Social Services Ministry published figures that showed a 112 percent increase in the number of complaints about domestic violence received by its hotline compared to April.

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