Defense May Question an Early Suspect in Historic Retrial of Man Convicted of Killing Teen

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Roman Zadorov appears in the Nazareth Magistrate's Court in May
Roman Zadorov appears in the Nazareth Magistrate's Court in MayCredit: Gil Eliahu

The defense will be allowed to put Ola Kravchenka on the witness stand in Roman Zadorov’s retrial even though the prosecution concluded unequivocally that, contrary to the defense’s claim, she was not the perpetrator of the murder for which Zadorov was convicted.

Zadorov was convicted of murdering 13-year-old Tair Rada at the her school in Katzrin in 2006. His conviction was upheld on appeal. But on Wednesday, in a rare move, State Prosecutor Amit Aisman granted his request for a retrial.

In that same media statement, Aisman said he had closed the case against Kravchenka. Nevertheless, Zadorov’s lawyer, Yarom Halevy, said Thursday that he plans to put Kravchenka on the stand and accuse her of the murder.

Despite having cleared Kravchenka, the prosecution won’t try to prevent this. Legal sources explained that the moment the defense claims it can prove someone else was the murderer, that person must be allowed to testify, to give the defendant a fair chance to clear his name.

In an interview with Kan Bet public radio, Halevy termed the prosecution’s decision to close the case against Kravchenka “shocking.”

“I’m telling everyone in the country who’s listening, they’re concealing the murderer,” he said. Ola Kravchenka definitely murdered Tair, just as I see the sun by day and the moon, sometimes, by night.”

Police questioned Kravchenka as a suspect in 2012 and she was questioned again in 2017, after the documentary series “Shadow of Truth” aired in 2016. The series included testimony by a friend of Kravchenka’s who said Kravchenka had confessed the murder to her.

Kravchenka has consistently denied killing Rada. She said the documentary turned her life into a nightmare, leading to persecution that eventually resulted in a psychiatric hospitalization, and after that, she left Israel. Kan public television recently aired another documentary, “Tzel Kaved” (“Heavy Shadow”), about the great injustice she says she has suffered.

The suspicions against Kravchenka first arose when a former partner, identified only by the initials A.H., told police she had confessed the murder to him the day it happened and had even shown him a bloody knife and bloodstained clothes. He also said she wore his pants during the murder.

Zadorov’s attorneys wanted to include A.H.’s testimony in his first appeal, but prosecutors said police had concluded that his story was baseless and motivated by a desire to avenge Kravchenka’s decision to leave him after nine years together. The Supreme Court accepted the prosecution’s position, and A.H.’s testimony was omitted.

Last week, Kravchenka asked the prosecution to finally close the case against her. Aisman acceded to this request.

“It’s hard to describe the magnitude of her feelings,” her lawyers, Daniel Haklay and Tomer Shvarts, said in a statement. “Nine years after the libel by her abusive partner, whom she had decided to leave ... Ola has finally received the requisite decision – closure of the ridiculous case against her, on the grounds of lack of guilt.’

The prosecution also agreed to consider her demand that it “indict the abusive partner who destroyed her life,” they added. “Ola is happy.”

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