The Supreme Court on Monday overruled a lower court decision and remanded Sharon and Oded Perinian in custody until the end of the proceedings. It also declared that the prima facie evidence against them contained the "potential" to convict them.
The decision means that the brothers, who have been charged with the murder of Pinhas Buhbout, will remain in jail for nine months without having to be brought to court for a review of the remand decision. If their trial lasts longer than that, the court will have to decide whether or not to further extend the remand.
"I am sorry the Supreme Court decided to detain them but I have no doubt that within a few weeks, after we receive the conclusions of the committee of inquiry [appointed to investigate why the police and the state prosecution allegedly bungled the investigation of Buhbout's murder], we will submit a request for another hearing on the remand and I believe they will be released," defense lawyer David Yiftach said.
The disagreement between Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinisch, who overruled the lower court, and Tel Aviv District Court Judge David Rosen, who made the original decision to place them under house arrest, had to do with the quality of the evidence submitted by the state.
Buhbout was killed on September 25, 1999. The two men suspected of killing him are Tzahi Ben-Or, who later fled Israel and was killed in Mexico, and Shimon Elmikayis, who is being tried Buhbout's murder in a separate proceeding.
The main evidence in the state's case involves tapes of two conversations that Elmikayis had with "Alex," a policeman who presented himself as a friend of the Perinians, and one with Ben-Or. Although Elmikayis did not say outright that the Perinians had ordered Ben-Or and him to kill Buhbout, he alluded to it on several occasions during the conversations. The state also presented supporting circumstantial evidence.
Rosen ruled that the state's evidence was not strong enough to justify holding the Perinians in custody until the end of proceedings. In the ruling, which was handed down on November 9, 2005, he wrote, "The picture that emerges from what Elmikayis says on the tapes is mostly based on air, and is weak."
Beinisch did not agree.
"The tapes indicate that the conversations between Elmikayis and [the policeman] whom he thought was a friend of the Perinians were authentic," she wrote. "Their talks paint a picture that implicates Elmikayis in the murder act, and points to the involvement of the defendants as the initiators... The transcriptions clearly show that Elmikayis and 'Alex' know about the killing [of Buhbout] and who was involved in it and also indicate that the suspects ordered the killing."
On Tuesday, the Zeiler Committee, which was set up to investigate the police's handling of the Perinian investigation, will hear the testimony of police investigator Shalom Ayida, who ran the Buhbout murder case in the Southern District.
Ayida's testimony is said to be critical for the committee, since he has been referred to by two senior officers as holding sensitive information related to the police's overall handling of the probe.
Former head of the Southern District's Central Investigative Unit (CIU) Amir Gur last week told the committee he had appointed Ayida to assist in the investigation, but Ayida had told him he was too scared to take part in it.