Shin Bet: He’s still the prime suspect in 1990s stabbing murders.
By BEN HARTMAN, YAAKOV KATZ
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Israel Police were dealt a serious blow on Wednesday when the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court ordered suspected Jewish terrorist Haim Pearlman released to house arrest.Pearlman, of Beit Raban/Givat Washington, near Yavne, was arrested on July 13 on suspicion of killing several Palestinians in Jerusalem in the late 1990s, and the attempted murders of seven others.RELATED:Shin Bet denies claims it tortured PearlmanPearlman: Shin Bet told me to kill SalahJudge Nahum Sternlicht said there was not enough evidence to indict Pearlman, but delayed his release until 9 a.m. on Thursday.If the police don’t appeal the release by that time, Pearlman will be on his way to his parents’ home in the Gush Etzion settlement of Tekoa.Police protested the court’s decision, saying that one of the men Pearlman is accused of trying to murder identified him in a lineup.Sternlicht was not swayed, arguing that the widespread media coverage of the case and publication of Pearlman’s photos made the lineup result irrelevant.AdvertisementIn response to the court’s decision, the Shin Bet issued a rare statement in which it said that Pearlman was still the prime suspect in its investigation into three murders and seven stabbings that occurred over 10 years ago.“While we have not collected sufficient evidence to try him in court, Pearlman remains the prime suspect in the investigation,” the Shin Bet said in the statement. “We will use the resources at our disposal to investigate these serious cases, even if they happened more than 10 years ago.”The Shin Bet said the Pearlman investigation was being monitored by State Attorney’s Office and the Justice Ministry, and that grave suspicions were raised in its framework, mainly based on comments Pearlman himself made regarding his personal involvement in a string of terrorist attacks.During his questioning, the Shin Bet said, Pearlman was given several opportunities to present his version of the events under investigation, but he refused.Shortly after his arrest, Pearlman associates gave Channel 2 audio recordings made by Pearlman, in which an alleged Shin Bet agent urged him to kill Raed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement’s Northern Branch.Pearlman has contended that he was set up by the Shin Bet and that he has no connection to the murders he is accused of.On Wednesday evening, Haim’s father, Eliyahu Pearlman, told The Jerusalem Post that the family was happy about the news of Haim’s impending release, but “it still hasn’t happened, so it still isn’t real yet.”Pearlman said his son’s arrest and incarceration “was very hard for him, but also for his whole family, his wife, kids, us.”Pearlman described his son as “a moral man who loves people and loves his family.Everyone who knows him would say the same.”Pearlman’s attorney Adi Keidar said on Wednesday that he wasn’t sure how long his client will be under house arrest, or why the judge did not release him unconditionally if there was such scant evidence against him.Nonetheless, he said his client “was very happy to hear the judge’s decision, but until he’s actually home it’s not real.”
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