Israel Police patrol car [File].
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The police on Monday asked that the “nationalist” motive for a south Tel Aviv gang rape of a mentally disabled woman be removed from the case, as they continue to work to determine what happened and where the third suspect is hiding.
The request came during the opening of the fourth remand extension for suspect Imad Aladin Dragame, a 42-yearold father of three from Nablus.
“Regarding the nationalist [terrorism] angle, I know that in the press, they published many things, but no police spokesperson has been interviewed about the case,” Sgt.-Maj. Ilan Koblenz told Judge Ronit Poznanski-Katz. “This has gotten completely out of all proportion, and I ask the court to remove the nationalist angle – we won’t relate to this matter.”
The “nationalist” motive – a code word for a terrorist attack – appeared in the very first arrest warrant prepared by police on May 17, some eight days before the press first got wind of the case and picked up the terrorism angle that police had written in the warrant.
At the moment, police said they are still trying to determine what exactly took place in the apartment in south Tel Aviv where the victim lives with her aunt and her aunt’s boyfriend, and fear Dragame could be a threat to the public and tamper with the investigation if he is released. They said they will keep him in custody until the third suspect is found.
Attorney Ophir Katabi asserted that his client is “being held hostage” until the third suspect is found, but Poznanski- Katz disagreed, saying: “There is evidence to support the allegations against the suspect and enough reason to keep him in custody,” adding that there is also significant evidence against the suspect who has not been apprehended, and that in recent days the case against the suspects has improved.”
The 20-year-old victim suffers from a mental disability and receives benefits from the National Insurance Institute.
In multiple rounds of questioning with a special investigator, “she has repeatedly detailed the same acts that she attributes to the suspect and others – in particular her refusal to give consent to what they did to her,” Poznanski-Katz said.
Both Dragame’s remand and that of the minor arrested in the case were extended until Thursday.
The case has been overemphasized of late both due to the decision by police not to inform the press of the investigation, and due to a Facebook post written by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week in which he wrote: “Can you imagine what the response would be if it was the other way around [if Jews were accused of gang raping a mentally disabled Palestinian woman]?” He recanted the post the next day, saying he should have waited until the investigation was complete.