The state prosecution said Sunday that it was opposed to granting a retrial to an Israeli man sentenced to life in prison for murdering a 13-year old girl, despite his repeated assertions that he had been wrongly convicted.
Roman Zadorov, a Ukrainian-Israeli handyman, has spent more than a decade in prison for the brutal 2006 murder of Tair Rada.
Rada was found dead in a bathroom stall in her Katzrin school in the Golan Heights, with slashes to her neck, stab wounds across her body, and severe blows to her head.
Zadorov’s 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 a woman whose name is gagged by a court order and who suffers from mental illness.
Attorney Yoram Halevi filed a request for a trial with the Supreme Court in October, 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.”
However, the state on Sunday, after reexamining the evidence, announced that it believes the conviction to be warranted.
Prosecutors asserted that his request was “interwoven with allegations of a conspiratorial, baseless nature,” noting that there existed strong evidence against Zadorov that had not been disproven.
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.
In 2015, the Supreme Court upheld Zadorov’s conviction in a split 2-1 decision. The dissenting opinion came from Justice Yoram Danziger, who said there was sufficient reasonable doubt to exonerate Zadorov.
“We have a good, responsible and serious legal system and if it comes to a retrial, I’m sure that a considerable number of the testimonies floating around will be made clear,” the justice said during an event at Tel Aviv University last year.
Zadorov’s appeals against that ruling were rejected, with Supreme Court President Miriam Naor saying that despite the substantial public interest in the case, there was no “legal justification” to retry Zadorov.
Rada’s murder case has long gripped the Israeli public, due both to the brutal way in which she was killed and continuing accusations that it was not Zadorov who committed the murder but a woman whose name is gagged by a court order and who suffers from mental illness.
Following a DNA analysis by investigators, the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute announced last year that the hair matched that of the former boyfriend of the woman, reigniting speculation on who committed the killing and whether Zadorov could be given a retrial.
The ex-boyfriend, whose name is also under gag order, has been referred to in Hebrew media reports by the initials A.H., while the woman has been identified as O.K.
“There are 50 bits of evidence supporting and strengthening A.H.’s version that incriminates O.K. in the murder,” Halevi said, referring to testimony given by A.H. to police six years after the murder that O.K. committed the crime.
O.K. is now claimed to have told three people she committed the murder.
The state attorney’s office and the Justice Ministry have previously said that all the evidence against O.K. had been thoroughly checked and found to be unreliable.
The Supreme Court previously rejected A.H.’s testimony about the woman while police concluded his version was unreliable and an attempt to frame his former lover, the Ynet news site reported in 2018.