Court frees Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva head Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira

Jerusalem District Court Judge Yoram Noam on Thursdayrejected an appeal to extend the remand in custody of Rabbi Yitzhak Shapiraeven though the state said it suspected him of direct involvement in the arsonattack on a mosque in the West Bank .

Although the state dramatically ratcheted up the gravity of the suspicionsagainst Shapira, the result was the same as it had been the previous day inJerusalem Magistrate’s Court. In that hearing, Judge Anat Singer turned downthe state’s request to extend Shapira’s remand by five days because he refusedto answer questions by police interrogators and because he could obstructjustice.
Singer said that neither of the reasons given by the police applied in Shapira’scase. Shapira is the head of Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in the Jewish settlement ofYitzhar. Three of his students are suspected of setting fire to the mosque.
On Thursday the state raised the ante, saying that it wanted to keep Shapira injail for questioning because it suspected that he himself was implicated in thearson attempt. The state prosecutor told the court there was reason to suspectthat Shapira “was involved either in the planning or execution or by helping[the perpetrators] escape after the act.”
He said it was possible that Shapira was guilty of not preventing a crime or ofhaving ordered it to be carried out.
Noam wrote that the classified information presented to the court by theJerusalem District Attorney’s Office to back its suspicions was inadequate.
After the hearing, police said they would not seek to appeal Noam’s decision tothe Supreme Court. Shapira’s release is a major blow to Judea and police and ShinBet efforts to link him to the arson attack.
In related developments, Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court extended by three daysthe remand in custody of two adults arrested in connection with the arsonattack. It also released a minor to 30 days of house arrest.
Earlier in the day, Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ordered two minors alsosuspected of involvement in the incident to 10 days of house arrest. Untilthen, they had been held in custody.