Hair found at Tair Rada murder scene could belong to partner of former suspect

Roman Zadorov, who was found guilty of the murder, has continued to maintain his innocence and is currently in the middle of a retrial.

 Ilana Rada, mother of late Tair Rada seen at her home in Katzrin, northern Israel, August 26, 2021. (photo credit: MICHAEL GILADI/FLASH90)
Ilana Rada, mother of late Tair Rada seen at her home in Katzrin, northern Israel, August 26, 2021.
(photo credit: MICHAEL GILADI/FLASH90)

The results of a DNA test carried out on hair found at the scene of the murder of 13-year-old Tair Rada could match the profile of Adir Habani, Hebrew media reported on Monday afternoon.

Habani is the former partner of Olga Kravchenko, who over the years has been named as a suspect in the 16-year-old murder case.

Who killed Tair Rada?

In 2006, Rada was found brutally murdered in a toilet cubicle at the Nofei Golan School in Katzrin that she had attended. Following a controversial trial in 2010, Roman Zadorov was found guilty of her murder.

Zadorov, who worked in a maintenance role at the school, has been the subject of controversy and speculation. Many people insist he was framed for the murder. Before his death, former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) deputy director Itzhak Ilan accused both the Israel Police and the state attorney’s office of framing Zadorov for the murder.

“Zadorov fell into the corrupt police officers’ trap. The interrogators, in cooperation with the prosecution, framed him,” Ilan said in an interview, adding, “The police aren’t willing to admit it.”

 Roman Zadorov arrives for a court hearing in his re-trial on the murder of Tair Rada, at the District Court in Nazareth, on January 11, 2022.  (credit: MICHAEL GILADI/FLASH90) Roman Zadorov arrives for a court hearing in his re-trial on the murder of Tair Rada, at the District Court in Nazareth, on January 11, 2022. (credit: MICHAEL GILADI/FLASH90)

Zadorov and his lawyers have insisted that Kravchenko was the murderer.

In July 2021, the High Court of Justice ruled in favor of conducting a retrial, saying that while it was possible the outcome would remain the same, it would be in the public interest to conduct a new trial. In August, Zadorov was released to house arrest ahead of the retrial, which is currently underway.

In March of this year, a rare pre-verdict statement given by Nazareth District Court Judge Asher Kula hinted that the court might be leaning toward acquitting Zadorov in light of new DNA evidence found at the scene of the murder that cannot possibly be linked to him.

Despite having heard months of testimony about the blood of Rada, and scientifically and forensically how it could have gotten on Zadorov’s clothing or shoes, Kula said it was looking more difficult for the prosecution to prove its theory connecting Zadorov to the blood beyond a reasonable doubt.

In a statement released on Monday afternoon, the Health Ministry said the hair found at the scene of the crime had been tested using advanced technology and mitochondrial DNA testing. Despite Hebrew media reporting that the hair belonged to Habani, the Health Ministry said it was “unable to comment on the findings of the test or their interpretation.”

Ilana Rada reacts

Reacting to the news, Tair’s mother, Ilana Rada, called for the arrest of Kravchenko and Habani, calling them “a pair of despicable killers.”

However, Kravchenko’s lawyers denied the allegations, saying the case against her had long since been closed “on the unequivocal ground of innocence.”

Ilana Rada has long since attested to her belief that Zadorov is innocent and that the killer is still walking free. In a statement at the start of the retrial last year, she called the new trial a “step in the right direction.”

“There are other people who are guilty,” she said. “The truth that we have been exposing has been rejected time after time.”

Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.