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(photo credit: Channel 2)
The damage to the public's faith in the police following months of scandals came to a head Thursday as both the alleged murderer of Ta'ir Rada and an organization representing Rada's family cast doubt on the police investigation into the 13-year-old's murder.
The head of Le'aan: The Association for the Prevention of Youth Violence in Israel told The Jerusalem Post that Ilana Rada, Ta'ir's mother, turned to the organization and asked them to aid her in hiring a private investigator to work together with police in investigating Ta'ir's brutal murder, in order to offer independent confirmation that police had arrested the correct suspect.
Tamara Mor, head of Le'aan, said that following Tuesday's press conference, in which police announced that suspect Roman Zadarov had confessed to the murder, Ilana Rada called Mor in tears and said that she was "willing to sell my house just so I can be certain that my daughter's murderer really is in prison."
Mor refused to accept any money in exchange for providing the service and enlisted the help of private eye Alex Peleg, a 25-year veteran of the Israel Police who retired with the rank of Deputy Commander. But, Mor told the Post Thursday, the police and the Internal Security Ministry never responded to requests from the organization and the Rada family that Peleg be involved in the investigation.
"Le'aan is very frustrated that we have not yet received any response from Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter or from the police. This is not about national security and there is no reason to block an expert picked by Le'aan from reviewing investigative materials."
Le'aan has been working with the Rada family since the day after 13-year-old Ta'ir was found brutally stabbed to death in the bathrooms of the Katzrin school where she studied. The organization became involved after police said that they suspected that a youth or youths could be behind the extremely violent murder.
At the time, Mor suggested that the parents bring in an expert, but the Rada family said that they had faith in the police. It was only after the press conference that Ilana Rada changed her mind.
"The Rada family emerged from the press conference with hard feelings and turned to Le'aan, which has been helping them since the terrible murder, and requested our assistance. The family is afraid that even if Zadarov is the murderer, the flimsy evidence collected by police will result in his release. We've seen this in Israel where, after a few years, a lawyer applies for a retrial and the evidence is dismissed."
A day after the press conference and Rada's tearful call, Mor sent a letter to Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter and Police Chief Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi in which she said that the Rada family had requested that a private investigator be involved in the investigation. But neither police nor the ministry responded and each subsequent phone call, Mor said, has been met with stonewalling and bureaucratic excuses.
Peleg, the former assistant head of the police's crime scene investigation unit, is considered to be an expert in the field of forensics and crime scene investigation and has worked on several murder cases in the past. Recently, he has delivered expert testimony in the field of forensic evidence in numerous cases, including cases before the Supreme Court.
Mor said that the Supreme Court will also be the organization's next destination if police continue to stonewall the family's request for Peleg to review the investigative file and the evidence collected. She said that the organization, which is entirely volunteer-supported, is looking for an attorney who will represent the organization and the family in a Supreme Court appeal to force the police to share evidence with Peleg.
"The police, for reasons of self-publicity, do not want to let Le'aan's representative have a look at the findings. I'm sure they have reason to fear him as an experienced investigator going through the findings and finding all of their blunders," Mor said.
Mor was not alone in criticizing police handling of the case Thursday. During a remand hearing in the Acre Magistrate's Court, Zadarov and his attorney, David Spiegel, blasted police for extracting a confession from Zadarov through undue psychological pressure.
"They didn't let me eat or sleep. I just wanted to go home to my family, so I told them what they wanted," Zadarov told the court, explaining how he came to confess - and even reinact - a crime that he now says he did not commit.
Despite his claims, Zadarov's remand was extended by the court for another 15 days after police turned over a secret document to the judge.
Spiegel said that rather than offering incriminating evidence, the police's forensics data actually contradicted police theories with regard to Zadarov's guilt. He emphasized that most of the DNA tests were not yet completed, despite the fact that police sasid during the press conference that the lab results would be ready on Wednesday.
Channel 2 television reported on Thursday night that the results of one of the police laboratory tests indicated that Zadarov was present at the murder scene.