A Petah Tikva court refused a request yesterday by the Shin Bet security service to extend the remand of accused killer Chaim Pearlman by eight days. Pearlman, a right-wing activist, is suspected of murdering four Palestinians and wounding several more for nationalistic reasons.
In extending Pearlman's remand for only two more days, Judge Nachum Sternlicht said: "I haven't seen any substantial evidence that could serve to convict Pearlman."
Since the eight-day remand would exceed 30 days' incarceration, the attorney general also had to give his approval.
During the hearing it was revealed that one of the people who had been questioned in recent months told his interrogators that he had been involved with Pearlman in criminal acts against Arabs but that the statute of limitations had expired on these alleged acts.
The person said he had no information about the murders of which Pearlman is suspected of committing.
Pearlman's attorney, Adi Keidar, told the court the hearing was "unusual" because the team investigating Pearlman "gets what it asks for all the time, and again they come with various excuses saying they need these days," referring to the request for an eight-day remand.
Keidar accused the investigators of trying to force a confession out of Pearlman.
Sternlicht said he had seen "no real progress in the investigation of the offenses detailed in the remand request. The police have had most of the evidence since the beginning of the investigation."
Although Sternlicht said the evidence he had seen seemed insufficient to convict Pearlman, he ordered Pearlman remanded for two more days because of the seriousness of the charges.
Pearlman's associates said there has been no progress in the investigation since he was arrested and that "the Shin Bet insists on holding him for no reason."
The court's decision complicates things for the Shin Bet. Pearlman's allies have been saying all along that the only evidence the Shin Bet has against him is what Pearlman told them when he was allegedly being paid as a Shin Bet agent and that is not enough to convict him.
The judge's decision seems to confirm their belief.
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