Suspect in Tel Aviv rape case admits only to mugging
Court extends the remand of 21-year-old Palestinian from Nablus, says the evidence in the case is substantially stronger than required at this stage.
The Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court extended on Tuesday the remand of the suspect in a Tel Aviv rape by eight days.
The suspect, 21-year-old man from Nablus, did not deny meeting the couple in a parking lot in the center of Tel Aviv, but claimed he only stole their cell phones and fled the scene.
Late Friday night, a young woman and her male friend were accosted in the parking lot by a man with a knife who forced them into a public bathroom, ordered them to have sex and raped the young woman. The man also stole their cell phones, which police tried to use to track him down.
The suspect was arrested in Ibn Gvirol Street on Monday night, not far from the scene of the assault. Shortly after the arrest, four other Palestinians who were living with him in an apartment in the area were arrested and questioned about their involvement.
The suspect’s attorney, Ran Alon, said that it was “only an initial suspicion” and that if the case was clear and indisputable, his suspect would have been indicted. “To the best of my understanding, the suspect claims that he stole the couple’s cell phones, but did not touch them. We will have to wait and see what will happen in the course of the investigation.”
In his ruling, Judge Benny Sagi wrote: “I will say, with caution, that the evidence shown is substantially stronger than required at this stage of the process, which is the strength of a probable cause.” The judge added that “the action itself demonstrates that the suspect is highly dangerous to the public."
Since the assault, Tel Aviv police conducted a manhunt for the arrest of the suspect, whose identity was known. The suspect resides near Nablus and frequently enters Israel to work illegally. In recent weeks he had been working in several kitchens of restaurants in the Rabin Square area.
The suspect has committed some minor crimes, but has no record of sex crimes, police informed. At this point it is unknown of the suspect’s involvement in other assaults, though police does not rule out his involvement in a number of incidents in the north of Tel Aviv in recent weeks.
The suspect’s foreman said he was fired just hours before the incident after two weeks of work. “What I heard doesn’t add up to me with this man, he is even a little stupid. He presented the I.D. of an Ahmad Hatib from Tira. Only when accounting received his details we realized the I.D. was a fake.” The foreman added that the suspect is “a small, thin man," and that he "can’t comprehend how he is linked to what I am hearing.”
Before the arrest police said it was able to retrieve high quality DNA samples and fingerprints from the scene, which will allow identifying the suspect once arrested.