Bedouin Father Found Guilty of 2013 Infanticides

Despite murky evidence, Be’er Sheva District Court convicts Ali Amtirat of murdering his two young daughters.

Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Ali Amtirat, a resident of the Bedouin town of Al-Fura’a in the Negev, was convicted by the Be’er Sheva District Court Monday of murdering his two daughters in 2013. The case had been ongoing for more than two years.

Amtirat was an early suspect in the murders after the bodies of the two girls, Asinat, 2, and Ramais, 3, were discovered in their home on May 21, 2013. They bore signs of having been severely beaten and strangled. Amtirat fled, but was found by the police six weeks later hiding in a cave in the Dead Sea area, and arrested.

Amtirat was indicted in July 2013 for the murders, as well as for the abduction of a number of his wife's relatives before the murder.

Though refusing to testify in court, Amtirat has consistently maintained his innocence, claiming that his daughters were killed by a relative who was in dispute with his wife, the girls’ mother, Abir Dandis. Amtirat went on a hunger strike for several weeks until he required medical treatment and was hospitalized.

Photo courtesy of the family

Dandis had filed a domestic violence complaint against Amitirat with Arad police the day before the murders, saying that she and the children were being abused. The complaint was overlooked, and in the wake of the murders’ publicity the commander of the Arad police station was removed from his post.

The Public Defender’s Office, which is representing Amtirat, noted the complexities of the case. Neither his DNA nor his fingerprints were found on either girl’s body or on the rope found wrapped around the elder daughter.

However, DNA from an unknown individual was found, according to Amtirat’s lawyers. And although two other people were named as possible suspects, their DNA was never tested for a possible match.

 “The evidence in the case is solely circumstantial, and you can’t get factual findings from most of it,” Amtirat’s public defender, Tomer Urinov, told Haaretz.

Urinov added that aside from the testimony of children from Amtirat’s first marriage, there is no evidence linking him to the girls’ deaths. He also stated that the testimony of several witnesses, including relatives and police officers, was found to be false.

There are conflicting witness statements about when the girls were last seen alive, and where, but police did not summon a coroner to determine the time of death and did not release the bodies for autopsies for three days.

The Southern District Prosecutor’s Office said it would address the case after studying the verdict.