State to appeal release of convicted murderer to house arrest ahead of retrial

Court grants 48-hour stay before letting Roman Zadorov out, giving prosecutors time to file appeal, but judges have hinted that arguments in favor of holding him not persuasive

Roman Zadorov arrives for a hearing at the Nazareth District Court on August 18, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Roman Zadorov arrives for a hearing at the Nazareth District Court on August 18, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The Nazareth District Court on Wednesday delayed the planned release of a man convicted of murdering a 13-year-old schoolgirl as he awaits a retrial in the 15-year-old case that horrified the nation.

Roman Zadorov is set to be tried again on the basis of new evidence after more than a decade behind bars for the 2006 murder of Tair Rada, which he has maintained he did not commit.

The court okayed Zadorov’s release to house arrest on Wednesday, but also granted a prosecution request to keep him behind bars for another 48 hours as the state prepares an appeal against his release.

The prosecution told the court that Zadorov presents a flight risk and should remain behind bars until the end of proceedings against him.

However, Zadorov’s defense team told the panel of judges that he would be monitored 24/7 by a team that includes his wife, mother and another relative. He will also be required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet.

The court earlier this month rejected a prosecution argument that the evidence against Zadorov would not be enough to overturn the prior conviction and he should thus remain in jail as inconsistent with the decision to hold a retrial.

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 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.

Tair Rada (YouTube screenshot)

Rada’s murder case has long gripped the country, 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.

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.

Olga Zadorov (C), the wife of Roman Zadorov, arrives for a court hearing at the District Court in Nazareth, on August 3, 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 matched that of a former boyfriend of Kravchenko, reigniting speculation over 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.”

Yarom Halevi, attorney of convicted murderer Roman Zadorov seen at a court hearing at the District Court in Nazareth, on August 3, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)

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.

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