Court releases 2 Usfiya arson suspects from custody

Brothers suspected of starting smaller Carmel fires sent home under restrictive conditions; father claims sons "framed."

December 6, 2010 13:05
2 minute read.
Trees on fire near Usfiya

Trees fire Usfiya 311. (photo credit: Channel 10 News)

Two Usfiya brothers suspected of starting the deadly fire in the Carmel region were released under restrictive conditions on Monday by the Haifa Magistrate Court.

Their release comes just 24 hours after the Haifa Magistrate Court extended the remand of the two youths until Wednesday.

On Sunday, the boys' father spoke out in defense of his sons: "Se won't allow two good kids to be framed with this case."

2 Usfiya brothers held for suspected criminal negligence
Video: Police say Carmel fire started by negligence, not arson

He said the boys "had nothing to do with the fire, they didn't even know about it. One of them was sleeping and the other was in school." Their father added that the boys were "taken from their home, as if they were terrorists and not treated like two young boys prior to induction in the IDF."

He blamed the "negligence of the neighbors who framed the boys," saying, "my boys do not smoke Nargila, and you can check that in a lab. I stand besides them and will continue to stand beside them. I will see to it that they are released immediately."

The father said that he too "served in the army, and my family and I tried to help the firefighters to put out the fire in the past few days."

The brothers, aged 14 and 16, were arrested on Saturday by officers belonging to a special investigation team assembled by the central unit of the Hof police sub-district, on suspicion of negligence which led to the devastating fire in the Carmel which has so far claimed the lives of 41 people.

“According to our initial findings, based on an analysis of findings on the ground, the fire was caused by negligence,” Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told The Jerusalem Post.  Reports that the teens were suspected of hurling burning waste products during a picnic could not be confirmed.

The investigation of the incident is in its early phases, and police have cautioned against drawing premature conclusions.

Meanwhile, police and firefighters had to contend with sporadic fires that erupted far from the main Carmel fire zone, leading investigators to conclude that arsonists were attempting to “hitch a ride” on the Carmel disaster.

Two additional youths from Usfiya were arrested Sunday night in connection with the breakout of the Carmel fire, police announced Monday morning.

According to the police, more arrests can be expected soon.

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