After days of speculation surrounding a case that horrified the nation 15 years ago, the State Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday announced a retrial for Roman Zadorov, who has been sentenced to life in prison for the 2006 murder of 13-year-old Tair Rada despite his repeated assertions he had been wrongly convicted.
Rada’s murder case has long gripped the Israeli public, 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, a Ukrainian-Israeli handyman, has spent more than a decade in prison for the brutal killing of the teenager.
The office of State Prosecutor Amit Aisman told the Nazareth District Court on Wednesday that the decision had been reached after the investigation materials had been reviewed.
However, the indictment against Zodorov has not been dropped and he will remain in jail for the duration of the new trial.
The announcement followed a ruling by the Supreme Court in May that there was sufficient reasonable doubt to exonerate Zadorov.
The Kan public broadcaster said that Aisman had apparently decided against the other options available to him — to announce there were no grounds for a retrial and order Zadorov’s immediate release, to announce a retrial but to release Zadorov from custody, or to request an extension for the decision to be made at a later date.
Aisman’s office also said it was shelving an investigation into Ola Kravchenko, a woman who Zadorov’s lawyers had claimed was Rada’s killer.
The State Prosecutor’s Office and the Justice Ministry have previously said that all the evidence against Kravchenko had been thoroughly checked and found to be unreliable.
According to Channel 12 news, Kravchenko responded to the announcement of the end of the investigation by describing recent years as “a dark period of my life.”
Rada was found dead in a bathroom stall in her Katzrin school 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 Kravchenko, whose identity was initially gagged by a court order and was named just 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 matched that of the former boyfriend of the woman, reigniting speculation on who committed the killing.
In 2019, Zadorov’s attorney Yoram 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.