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One of the most high-profile murder trials to be heard in Israel in recent years was supposed to get off to a dramatic start Wednesday, but instead the defense in the Ta'ir Rada murder trial requested - and was granted - a one-month delay in the indictment against Roman Zadorov.
During the hearing at the Nazareth District Court, Zadarov's attorney, David Spiegel, requested that the discussion be pushed off until the beginning of March to give the defense more time to study the prosecution's materials.
After being read the charge sheet, Zadorov pled not guilty to the murder of the Katzrin teenager who was found stabbed to death in a bathroom at her Golan Heights school.
Zadarov, a 30-year-old immigrant, was making repairs at the school when the eighth-grader was killed.
On Tuesday, the prosecution suffered a serious setback when a DNA test that sought to link Zadarov to Rada's murder returned from an American laboratory with negative results. Prosecutors said that despite the disappointing findings, they had enough evidence to support their indictment of Zadarov on murder charges.
Spiegel embraced on Wednesday the test results as a further point to advocate his client's innocence. According to the defense attorney, Rada was found clutching a tuft of black hairs that she tore out of her attacker's head during their struggle. Zadorov, whose face has become a common sight on headline news programs, has dark blond hair.
Spiegel also claimed that the upcoming trial would go down in Israeli legal history as the end of a time when suspects can be indicted on the basis of a confession alone. Zadorov confessed to the murder - twice - after his arrest, but recanted less than a day later.
While Spiegel expressed his confidence that Zadorov would be proven innocent, the murdered teen's mother, Ilana Rada, reiterated her lack of faith in the legal proceedings. Rada has been an outspoken critic of the police investigation into the murder, and on Wednesday, yelling from the visitor's section of the Nazareth court room, she directed her frustration toward the court.
"To my regret, I can't trust the court," said Rada. The family's legal representative, Shira Maroz, later said that the family does not believe that police have built a strong enough case to convict Zadorov.
Ilana Rada also said Wednesday that the family had not been informed about the DNA results or the indictment, adding that she had not even been informed that the trial was supposed to begin Wednesday.
But, in contrast to previous statements, Ilana Rada clarified Wednesday that while she still does not believe that Zadorov was the murderer, she thinks that he knows more about the murder than he has admitted.
"If I know that you hurt my family, your family will be destroyed no less," Rada shouted in the courtroom at Zadorov. He responded by mumbling, "I am innocent."
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