State Agrees to Rehear Testimony in Tair Rada Murder Case

State effectively admits second conviction of Roman Zadarov was based on misunderstanding of pathologist’s position.

Gil Eliyahu

The state prosecutor has retracted its opposition to the hearing of new testimony from Israel’s chief pathologist regarding the 2006 murder of Tair Rada, 13, at her Golan Heights school.

The prosecutor informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday of its decision regarding the conviction of Roman Zadarov in the case for the sake of due process. Zadarov’s lawyers had asked the court two weeks ago to rehear testimony from Dr. Chen Kugel, head of Abu Kabir forensic medicine institute, who they say supports their position on discrepancies regarding the alleged murder knife.

In September 2010 Zadorov was found guilty of the murder. He had been doing construction work at the school at the time. He was arrested days later, confessed to and reenacted the murder, then promptly retracted his confession the following day.

The state in essence admitted in its new response that the ruling in the retrial, in which Zadarov was convicted a second time, was based on a mistaken assumption about Kugel’s position.

The state had claimed the testimony had no weight, despite Kugel’s senior status, ever since the Tel Aviv Labor Court revealed that Kugel’s professional opinion supported the defense’s position. The court was hearing the state prosecutor’s request to cancel the appointment of Maya Forman, the expert on behalf of Zadarov’s defense, to a senior position at the forensic institute.

Forman had testified that there was a discrepancy between the murder weapon that the state was arguing Zadarov had used, a box cutter, and the type of cut found on the Rada’s body. Zadarov had confessed to using a box cutter, and later retracted his statement.

Reproduction

The state is now asking that the protocol and statement by Kugel from the labor court hearing not be submitted, but rather that Kugel testify before the judges who handled the criminal case in Nazareth District Court, and “who know the case inside and out,” according to the prosecution. The legal complication arose when Forman gave testimony in June 2013. The prosecution argued that Kugel’s position regarding the knife different from that of Forman, who insisted the opposite was true. However, the state objected to retaking Kugel’s testimony in order to clarify his stance. The court also rejected the request to retake his testimony. However, the change in the state’s position now allows his testimony to be admitted.