Suspect arraigned in murder of Muslim leader

Khaled Darwish to remain in custody for at least 6 days a polic build case indicting him of killing Ramle leader Mohammed Taji.

The Omari mosque in Ramle 390 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The Omari mosque in Ramle 390
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Over four months after the head of the Ramle Wakf – the authority in charge of local Muslim sites – was found murdered in the city’s Great Mosque, a suspect in the killing was arraigned in the Ramle Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
Khaled Darwish will remain in custody for at least six days while police work on building a case for an indictment against him in the killing of Muhammad Taji, one of the most well-known community leaders in Ramle.
Darwish’s lawyer, Shukri Tabik, told the court that his client, who was arrested on Sunday, had no personal or business relationship with Taji, and that he only knew him “because everyone in Ramle knows him.”
“He has no personal connection to him and no idea whatsoever who killed him or why,” Tabik said outside the courthouse on Monday, adding that a previous suspect had also been arrested following the murder and later released.
Police would not present before the court the evidence they have against the 43- year-old, though the judge did say that there is enough reasonable evidence to order him to remain in custody.
Taji spent nearly four decades managing the local wakf. He also managed a youth soccer team and served as an adviser for the city of Ramle on Arab issues.
He was found murdered in his office on October 5, and suspicions began to mount that the killing may have been linked to property issues, as Taji was in charge of rent and property disputes involving the wakf properties, which include large swaths of the old city and the market in Ramle.
His death was met by an outpouring of grief from residents and community leaders, as well as MK Ahmed Tibi, one of Taji’s cousins.