kidnap - Moti Kimche - August 31 2010
The car in which Inbal Amram was found in 2006. Photo by Moti Kimche
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A judge yesterday sided with the family of 20-year-old woman murdered in 2006, in a negligence lawsuit claiming the police's slow response led to their daughter's death.

"If the police had behaved properly, Inbal's life could have been saved," Petah Tikva District Court president Hila Gerstl wrote yesterday. "The police's judgment was extremely flawed."

Around 1 A.M. on March 4, 2006, Amram left her Petah Tikva home by car to pick up her sister from a location nearby. Forty minutes later, after Amram repeatedly failed to answer her mobile phone, the woman's parents contacted police.

The girl's parents called the police emergency line, demanding that the operator notify the police station. Failing that, they traveled to the station themselves. There, they said, they were told to return after 48 hours. Police maintain that they had asked the parents to return the next day.

The police eventually took up the case, but only at 4 A.M., after a relative who works for the department was able to push it through.

In her ruling, Gerstl noted the gross "distortion" of police priorities when "an everyday person is unable to file a police complaint without the right connections."

Shortly after 4 A.M., police used a tracking device to locate Amram's mobile phone in an open field near Glilot Junction. The same relative tried to reach the field in his private car, but when he was unsuccessful, asked police to send a helicopter. The police refused, saying they had to wait until first light an hour and a half later. The decision to send the helicopter came only at 7:58, and nearly an hour passed after that before it was actually sent.

A few minutes after the helicopter ascended, the pilot spotted Amram's car, where the girl was found unconscious and bearing stab wounds to the neck. Finding a faint pulse, paramedics tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate her.

Police later discovered that the perpetrator, Mohammed Jaidi of the West Bank town of Qalqilyah, had attacked the girl after trying to steal her car.

They learned that Jaidi had followed Amram into the car and ordered her to move to the passenger seat. Amram apparently tried to flee, but he gave chase and inflicted the ultimately fatal stab wounds.

In an attempt to conceal the evidence, Jaidi burned the car with his victim inside and fled to Qalqilyah.

Jaidi is now serving a life sentence plus 15 years for the murder.

"The fact that the perpetrator caused Inbal's death does not remove the causal link between the police's failings and the tragic end result," Gerstl wrote.

Locating Amram's mobile phone in a remote area "should have set off alarm bells" with the police, Gerstl wrote. Pathologists testified at the negligence trial that the woman was still alive at 6:30 A.M., and that her life could have been saved had police acted faster.

Hearing the ruling from his lawyers, Amram's father Hanania said, "I screamed out to heaven that there is justice in this country, that this is a victory for democracy, that Inbal's voice has been heard." Speaking of their lives since their daughter's murder, the victim's father said, "Life has changed. It's different, there's no joy."

"If she can't come to us, we'll come to her," he said. "We purchased a grave next to her - we'll be with her until the end of time."