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Supreme Court orders retrial of convicted killer of 13-year old Tair Rada

Justice says there is sufficient reasonable doubt to exonerate Roman Zadorov, who has spent more than a decade in prison for brutal 2006 killing of schoolgirl

Convicted murderer Roman Zadorov in the courtroom of the Supreme Court, Jerusalem, December 23, 2015. (Gili Yohanan/POOL)
Convicted murderer Roman Zadorov in the courtroom of the Supreme Court, Jerusalem, December 23, 2015. (Gili Yohanan/POOL)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a retrial for Roman Zadorov, sentenced to life in prison for murdering a 13-year-old girl despite his repeated assertions he had been wrongly convicted.

Zadorov, a Ukrainian-Israeli handyman, has spent more than a decade in prison for the brutal 2006 murder of Tair Rada.

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 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.”

In his final ruling as a Supreme Court justice, Hanan Melcer said Tuesday that based on the evidence presented by his attorneys, there was sufficient reasonable doubt to exonerate Zadorov.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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