Niv murder suspects defeat appeal

Supreme Court upholds decision in murdered doctor case; 4 men to be released to house arrest Monday.

By DAN IZENBERG
October 5, 2008 13:25
2 minute read.
Niv murder suspects defeat appeal

David Niv 224.88. (photo credit: Channel 2)

 
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Efforts by police to lock up the men suspected of being behind the 2007 drive-by slaying of medical expert Prof. David Niv suffered a blow on Sunday when the Supreme Court rejected the state's appeal to extend the custodies of four suspects. A police source said the court's decision would undoubtedly "make the investigation more difficult," but refused to criticize the ruling, saying it was not the role of the police to undermine Supreme Court decisions. A court-imposed media ban prevents publication of the details from the police investigation. Niv, who was head of the pain unit at Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital, was shot and killed while driving from work to his Savyon home on the evening of February 5, 2007. A man in a vehicle sprayed Niv's BMW with bullets. Over a year and a half passed in which no suspects were arrested, before police appeared to make a breakthrough, arresting four suspects in September. They have been named as Sami el-Mugrabi, Manny Ben-David, Imad el-Mugrabi and Salim Elbaz, all from Ramle. Police have yet to disclose a motive for the killing. But the detective's progress hit a dead end when the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court and the Tel Aviv District Court rejected the state's request to extend the suspects' custody, which expired on Thursday. Police took their appeal to the Supreme Court, which sided with the Tel Aviv courts. "Since September 28 [when the suspects' remand was last extended] until today, there has been no breakthrough [in the investigation]," Justice Miriam Na'or wrote. "I will add, without giving details, that after reading over [the memorandum submitted by the state], the chances of a breakthrough do not look good." "In the matter before us, we are dealing with the detention of suspects. We must take into account the gravity of the suspicions, the strength of the evidence, the grounds for detention and the investigative actions required. I do not have before me any information that was not presented to the lower courts," she wrote. Na'or agreed with the lower court judges that based on the progress in the investigation and the length of time the suspects had already spent in jail, they should be released. The suspects should be electronically tagged and barred from all forms of communication including telephones, cellphones and the Internet, she added. "We don't criticize Supreme Court decisions," a Tel Aviv Police source said. "There can be no doubt that it makes the investigation more difficult, but we will continue to investigate." The source said Tel Aviv police detectives had conducted an undercover investigation lasting 17 months, culminating in the arrests in September. The investigation has now shifted phases and gone above aground, the source added.

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