A man was indicted on Wednesday for murdering his 19-year-old sister over the family's disapproval of her lifestyle and objection to her leaving home.
Lod resident Mohammed Alamuri has been in police custody for over a month, and police said they are still investigating the involvement of other family members in her murder.
Najlaa Alamuri's body was found in April near Tel Hadid in central Israel after she had been missing for two weeks.
According to investigators, on April 11 Mohammad, who is 32, arrived at their mother’s house where Najlaa was staying with her younger brother, who witnessed the murder. Police said Mohammad entered his sister’s room and strangled her with his bare hands. Afterwards, the suspect his sister’s body to his car, drove to an open area and left it there. Police said that the next day he returned to the place where he had left the body and moved it to a ditch near Tel Hadid.
Following her disappearance and before her body was found, police led the family to believe that they had classified it as a missing persons case, when in fact it had been classified as a murder case without a body, and her two brothers were suspected.
Immediately after Najlaa’s body was found, police arrested five members of her family – her two brothers, her sister, her sister-in-law and her mother. The eldest brother’s detention was extended and police received special permission to hold him in custody until the case was solved.
The case was cracked after police interrogated the brothers in the presence of their mother. During one such interrogation, the younger brother, a minor, incriminated his older brother. Before Najlaa’s body was found, police determined that her older brother’s phone was present at the time and place at which he stashed the body. At the time, Mohammad claimed he had been there with a friend. Police had been pursuing Najlaa’s family members even before her body was found, and arrested them immediately afterwards.
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“The actions of the police broke the silence of an entire family that stood behind a murder,” said a source close to the investigation.
Hadash-Ta’al lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman, who headed the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, said, “The police did what they had to do, but dozens of murder cases of Arab women remain unsolved. The time has come to punish the criminals and murderers who are still walking free among us.”
Over the last several years, Najlaa Alamuri suffered violence and threats from her family. Last September, she left home for about a month and said she wasn’t returning.
She was offered police protection, and in October she told Lod police that her family wanted to harm her, but declined to name the specific family members whom she feared. She also refused the police suggestion that she enter a shelter for battered women.
A family member learned that she was at the police station and went there to forcibly take her home, locating her as she was leaving the station by the rear exit. Hearing her shouts, the police arrested the relative, who has a long record of drug and violence offenses, and who was deemed dangerous to his family.
A day after that incident, another family member was arrested on suspicion of abetting him. Under questioning, the two said they just wanted to talk with Najlaa because they were worried that she would be “running around in the streets.”
During the two-month legal proceedings against the two relatives, Najlaa told police that she didn’t want them to serve jail time. Eventually, the two agreed to a plea bargain on charges of conspiring to commit a crime and attempted false imprisonment. One was sentenced to six months in jail and released earlier this year. The second was sentenced to community service, which was converted into prison time. He was also released in April.