Court acquits man as wrongly imprisoned for murder after 4 years

Due to the involvement of undercover operatives in encouraging Radai to commit additional crimes and in obtaining admissions, the case will have a major impact on the police’s future methods.

Israel Police logo (photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel Police logo
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Jerusalem District Court acquitted Solomon Radai on Monday of murdering his wife due to police manipulation of the defendant. The case was initially seen in September 2014 as a coup for the police.
The decision follows a January 2015 decision by the same court acquitting Radai of separate attempted murder and arson charges. As a result, he will be freed after more than four years of wrongful imprisonment.
The encouragement by undercover operatives for Radai to commit additional crimes in order to obtain admissions of evidence will have a major impact on the police’s future use of such undercover operations.
Radai’s wife was murdered in 2003. Police failed to break open the case until 2014, when they arrested Radai and used undercover operatives to obtain admissions of evidence from him, and to motivate him to try to attempt arson.
In 2015 the court said, “The initiative and activism of the police in exploiting the fragile mental state of the accused after he was detained, exacerbates the tampering [with his actions] sufficiently to annul the accusations” regarding arson and attempted murder of a man designated by the police’s undercover operative.
It is common for police to use undercover operatives, sometimes planted in jail as “convicts” to gain the trust of persons they suspect of crimes.
The usual goal, as was the case with Radai, is to get the suspect to confess to the undercover person once that person has won their trust.
A parallel tactic has an undercover operative posing as an additional party in an illegal transaction to draw in the suspect to committing to an illegal transaction.
While these tactics are considered proper and even creative, the court decisions both in 2015 and on Monday ruled that the operative in this case went too far.
On Monday, the decision said that admissions by Radai were not credible due to manipulation by police undercover operations.
The 2015 court ruling said the operative planted the arson idea in Radai’s head, assisted him and paid him for perpetrating the act in order to get back at someone who owed him a debt.
Next, it said that the operative returned to Radai with a request to car bomb the same person who still owed him a debt.
The 2015 court said the operative was so aggressive that it could not allow a trial of Radai, as it was unclear that Radai would have undertaken the crimes without the operative planting the ideas.