(photo credit: COURTESY THE FAMILY)
The families of Shelly Dadon and of her suspected murderer, Hussein Yussuf Hasin Halifa, had a physical and verbal altercation in the Nazareth District Court shortly before Sunday’s hearing began.
The sides were separated by court security after calls to the suspect’s father that he had “raised a murderer” were made, and he was evacuated to hospital because he felt ill.
Israeli Arab Halifa, who admitted to the murder of 19-year-old Dadon, confessed under duress that included abuse and sleep deprivation, his attorneys said last week, adding that they planned to contest the confession’s legality.
Halifa’s attorneys, Ala Saliman and Wassim Shahada, spoke with the media last week outside the court as the trial of their client got under way, and said that over the course of a week of interrogations, he had been allowed to sleep for a total of just eight hours and was kept handcuffed for 15 hours or more at a time, all while being threatened by interrogators that he would spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement.
They added that the interrogations included “relative physical violence,” but mainly a constant “serious pressure” that forced him to confess under duress.
Dadon was killed on May 1 after she disappeared while on her way to a job interview in Migdal Ha’emek. On June 16 the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) arrested Halifa, a taxi driver from Ibillin in the Galilee.
The Shin Bet says that Halifa picked up Dadon on the way to the interview and took her to a deserted parking lot, where he stabbed her to death, leaving wounds across her entire body. He then washed his taxi in a failed attempt to get rid of physical evidence linking him to the crime, and ditched Dadon’s wallet in the Arab village of Beit Zarzir, where it was found by local youths.
Dadon’s father, Ya’acov, told The Jerusalem Post last week that the family had heard the attorneys’ allegations about the confession but were not concerned.
“We’ve seen the evidence, it’s all solid,” he said. “They have no chance so they’re trying this tactic. We’re not worried. We trust the justice system.”
One Dadon relative who doesn’t trust the system is Assaf Sarid, the victim’s cousin.
He told the Post last week that the lawyers were “killing our family again and causing them further suffering,” and that “the justice system in this country is a disgrace and they’re just saying this with the hope that the courts believe them.”
Both he and Ya’acov Dadon added that Halifa had told police things that only the killer would know and that when he reenacted the crime at the murder scene he was able to give details he couldn’t have known otherwise.
“Even if the lawyers convince the court, the entire country knows he did it,” Sarid said.
Since Dadon was killed in May, the police and the Shin Bet said it was most likely a terrorist attack, even as it eventually was determined to most likely have been criminal in nature, with no apparent nationalistic motive.
After the killing, relatives of Dadon and residents of her hometown of Afula held protests in the city, calling on the police to find the killer and also for Israel to end the practice of releasing convicted murderers in agreements with the Palestinians.