Supreme Court 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Supreme Court accepted on Wednesday the appeal of Hamed Zinati, an Abu Sinan
resident sentenced to life in prison for the 2007 murder of businessman Yusuf
RELATED:Top attorney Jacob Weinroth acquitted of bribery
In overturning the lower court’s decision, the court found the
prosecution had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zinati was guilty
of the murder and accepted Zinati’s defense position that testimony against him
from a third man arrested for the murder had been obtained under pressure from a
Zinati, who has served four years in prison following
his arrest and conviction in the Haifa District Court, was released following
While they acquitted Zinati, Supreme Court Justices Edmond
Levy, Yoram Danziger and Salim Joubran denied the appeal of his codefendant and
former business partner, Kamal Awid, who will continue to serve his life
sentence for the murder.
Police discovered Yusuf Ali’s body near Kibbutz
Ga’aton in the Western Galilee in July 2007. The scene had been arranged to look
as if Ali had died in a car crash, but a postmortem examination revealed the
businessman had in fact been strangled to death.
During the murder trial,
police evidence revealed that the victim’s wife, Zaki Ali, had been having an
affair with Awid.
At the same time, they discovered that Zintai had hired
a private investigator to trail Awid, and threatened to reveal the affair unless
Awid paid him.
Police arrested Awid three months after the murder, and
shortly afterwards arrested one of his business associates, Salah Badawi. In
prison, Badawi told his cellmate, a police informant, that Awid and Zintai
killed Ali together.
Badawi was indicted separately in connection with
the murder, and also sentenced to life.
However, in the appeal, the
Supreme Court accepted the position of Zintai’s defense team, who argued that
the police informer had put pressure on Badawi to testify that Zintai took part
in the killing.
Defense attorneys Yoav Sapir and Moshe Srogovitz said
that the District Court judges had erred in accepting Badawi’s testimony, part
of which they had said was false.
The Supreme Court also criticized the
prosecution and the police over a missing CD of evidence, which included details
of the police informant’s actions with relation to Zinati and to Badawi’s
testimony against him.
In ruling to reject Awid’s appeal, the panel of
three justices ruled on Wednesday that there was sufficient evidence to prove
his involvement in Ali’s death.
A murder conviction requires that the
prosecution prove a killing was premeditated, and the Supreme Court ruled that
in Awid’s case, evidence showed he planned the murder in advance.
fact that Awid had strangled Ali to death meant that he could have decided to
stop and not kill him, the court ruled.