Itai Ben Dror
Suspected killer Itai Ben Dror outside court, July 25, 2010. Photo by Ilan Asayag
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Itai Ben Dror, who is suspected of murdering his three young children early Saturday morning, was ordered yesterday to remain in police custody for 10 days. His bail hearing was held at Ramle Magistrate's Court. He was sent for an initial, two-day psychiatric evaluation to determine his competency to be held in custody and to undergo questioning, despite a request by the police representative not to order such an evaluation.

Hundreds of people attended the funerals of the children - Or (5 ), Roni (8 ) and Omer (10 ) - who were buried yesterday in the cemetery of Netanya's Vatikim neighborhood.

Ben Dror was brought to court wearing clothing given to him in Netanya's Laniado Hospital, where he was admitted after the murders on Saturday and treated for minor injuries sustained in a suicide attempt. His hands were still bloodied from those wounds. The suspect hid his face from the photographers waiting for him in the courtroom.

"He is mentally ill and his action was a result of that illness," Ben Dror's attorney, Ran Alon of the Public Defender's Office, told the court. "After he stabbed his children, he said, he laid them in his bed. After the murder he took a bottle of whisky, drank from it, swallowed pills and cut his arms so he could die together with them," Alon said.

When his client woke up again after the murders and realized his suicide attempt had failed he swallowed more pills, Alon told the court.

The police representative argued against the psychiatric competency evaluation on the grounds that it was unnecessary at this stage of the proceedings.

Investigators took statements yesterday from staff at Lev Hasharon Psychiatric Hospital in Pardesiya, where Ben Dror was a patient earlier this year, including psychiatrists who treated him. Investigators said they had the impression that Ben Dror was discharged after it was unequivocally determined that he was sane.

Police believe murder was planned

They believe that Ben Dror planned the murders in advance, even buying the knife with which he killed his children.

During the court session Judge Liora Frenkel sent the police representative to consult with his superiors regarding a reexamination of their request not to send Ben Dror for evaluation. When he returned, the defense attorney addressed the court again: "I want to emphasize, before the decision is made, that the suspect himself told me in the hospital where he was admitted that there was a voice that spoke to him and told him to carry out the murder and how to do it exactly. He told me he would carry out another suicide and even wrote in letters to his children,'soon I will come to see you.'"

In her ruling, Frenkel wrote: "I have no words to describe this case. It is very painful and shocking. The suspicion on account of which the suspect was brought before me, there are no words to define it and the mind cannot grasp it ... I read the material from the investigation and my heart weeps."

"Itai is not mentally ill," Ben Dror's ex-wife Lilach said in a radio interview yesterday. "He is a very manipulative man. This person will not go free - over my dead body. He won't be institutionalized."

She told Army Radio that she had suspected for a while that her ex-husband would resort to violence, but did not imagine that he would harm their three children.