Supreme Court Orders Reconsideration of Israeli Girl's 2006 Murder

Three justices asked the Nazareth District Court to examine new opinions presented on behalf of the man convicted last September of the grisly murder of a Golan Heights schoolgirl.

The Supreme Court ordered the Nazareth District Court on Monday to examine new evidence in the murder of Golan Heights schoolgirl Tair Rada.

Last September, the court convicted Roman Zadorov of the 2006 murder of Rada in a crime that shocked Israelis for its brutality. Rada, an eighth grade student at the Nofei Golan school in Katzrin, was found in a restroom stall in the school with knife wounds.

The bench in Monday's order – which consisted of Supreme Court Justices Edna Arbel, Yoram Danziger and Zvi Zylbertal – told the lower court to relate to two opinions Zadorov presented in his appeal. One was written by William Bodziak, a former FBI expert on footprint comparisons, and argues that what the prosecution said were bloody footprints on Rada’s pants cannot be identified as Zadorov’s, nor is it clear that the bloodstains are footprints at all.

The other opinion is by forensics expert Dr. Maya Furman-Resnick, who contends that the knife marks on Rada’s throat seem to indicate that she was killed with a serrated blade, and not an X-Acto knife, as Zadorov said in his confession.

At his conviction at the Nazareth District Court it was stated that Zadorov’s confessions were supported by substantial evidence, including classified details Zadorov was able to provide to the investigators. These included the location of the crime scene, the external appearance of the deceased and her position at the time of the murder, the wounds on her body and the way the murder was committed.

However, the three Supreme Court justices – who examined the documents, watched Zadorov's confession to a stool pigeon and the reconstruction of the crime, and heard the arguments of the two sides at length – concluded that it would be correct to return the case to the district court. The court is now charged with examining the additional evidence.

The justices clarified that their request for the court to re-open the case does not indicate that they expect a particular outcome. “Our decision does not take a stance with respect to the case itself and its results,” the justices wrote. According to them, as long as it is not decided otherwise, the conviction by the district court will remain in effect. Zadorov will remain in prison during the hearing of the additional evidence and the determination of the additional court ruling.

Shmuel Rada, the father of murdered schoolgirl, said he had no opposition to the new evidence being weighed by the court. “This is a proper move. The Supreme Court believes the matter must be thoroughly examined,” he said. Rada noted that he does not believe the district court will change its decision. “I was at all the court sessions and I was persuaded there was a lot of evidence and testimony that led to the conviction. I am utterly convinced that Zadorov is the murderer,” he said.