Charges Against Three Original Suspects Are Dropped in Shaichat Murder Case

The indictments against three people accused in the murder of Israel Defense Forces soldier Oleg Shaichat have been revoked.

Northern District Attorney Sylvia Freiman told the Nazareth District Court yesterday that the state rescinded the accusations detailed in the indictment served against Yussuf Sabih, Sharif Eid and Tarek Nujeidat.

"We have waited for such a long time to hear this news," said Sharif's father, Mohammed Eid. "We knew this moment would come, now we can resume our normal lives."

Oleg Shaichat was kidnapped last July at the Beit Rimon junction, on his way back home to Upper Nazareth from the IDF base in Safed where he served. His body was found a week later in an olive grove between Kafr Kana and Mashad.

Nasser Drar, Tarek Nujeidat's brother-in-law, said the "family is happy, despite the affair dragging on for a long while. Justice has been seen. We want those in charge of the state prosecution to learn the lesson and draw conclusions. It has been very hard. I hope Tarek manages to resume a normal life."

The district attorney also wrote in a statement that the investigation against Mohammed Anbatawi in the Shaichat murder was in its final stages, and that an announcement on the matter would be released in the upcoming days.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court extended Anbatawi's remand by two more days. This is Anbatawi's 12th remand extension since he was arrested on April 19. His arrest led to the release of the three suspects on May 9.

After his arrest, Nujeidat confessed to kidnapping and murdering Shaichat, and incriminated his friends. He even reconstructed the murder, drew a sketch of the murder scene and described the chain of events leading to the killing.

Nujeidat later retracted his confession, and differences of opinion between police and the Shin Bet security service arose. The Shin Bet believed there was insufficient evidence to indict the three. However, indictments were served in September, with the state prosecution's guidance.

Anbatawi, 20, the new suspect in the murder, was arrested when the "Free Galilee" movement was exposed, following a shooting attack on a Border Police jeep at Beit Rimon junction on April 18. One of the gunmen, Mohammed Khatib, 21, from Kafr Kana was killed in the incident, and his friend Ala Moussa was arrested. Shaichat's M16 rifle was found near them.

Khatib and Anbatawi allegedly kidnapped and murdered Shaichat. The cell members, all of them Israeli Arabs, are also suspected of throwing incendiary devices at police cars, planning terror attacks and attempting to kidnap other soldiers.

Moussa, a resident of Kafr Manda, said in his interrogation that he, Khatib and Anbatawi were involved in five incidents of throwing Molotov cocktails: four near Kafr Kana and a fifth in Kafr Manda. He said that on the day of the shooting attack, Khatib told him that he and Anbatawi had kidnapped and murdered Shaichat, and stole his weapon. He added that Khatib led him to where Shaichat's rifle was hidden.

Anbatawi told interrogators that he had joined the cell in October 2002 in order to distribute pamphlets at demonstrations.

He admitted to throwing incendiary devices on four occasions, and later admitted murdering Shaichat. He later retracted his confession and said he was coerced into confessing. Last month, he and four other cell members were indicted for throwing Molotov cocktails, illegal organization and attempting to kidnap soldiers.