DNA Match Leads Israeli Court to Convict Man of Rape 11 Years After Crime

The man, a resident of the West Bank, was convicted of rape, sodomy and indecent acts under aggravated circumstances – despite expiry of statute of limitations on the crime

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A lawyer enters the Jerusalem District Court building in East Jerusalem, November 9, 2018
A lawyer enters the Jerusalem District Court building in East Jerusalem, November 9, 2018Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

A man was convicted on Monday of raping a woman 11 years ago, after being identified through a DNA sample taken at the scene of the crime.

The accused, a resident of the West Bank who was in Israel illegally at the time, attacked the woman, then 45, threatening to kill her.

He was convicted in the Jerusalem District Court of rape, sodomy and indecent acts under aggravated circumstances, as well as illegal residence in Israel and, under a plea bargain, sentenced to eight and a half years in prison. He was also ordered to pay 30,000 shekels ($8,650) in compensation to the victim.

According to the indictment, in October 2007 the accused suggested to the woman that she accompany him to a nearby bus stop since the bus she was waiting for was late. He then led her to a deserted area. When she tried to escape, he grabbed her hands. When she shouted for help, he picked up a rock and held it above her head, threatening to kill her. The woman pleaded with the accused, telling him she had children and offering to pay him if he left her alone. He raped and sodomized her, then fled.

After the incident, the woman’s clothes, which had the suspect’s semen on them, were sent to a police laboratory, where a DNA sample was taken and entered into a database.

In June 2018 the accused was arrested in Tel Aviv on suspicion of committing a different crime. His DNA was found to match the sample taken following the 2007 rape.

The lawyer of the accused claimed that he could not be prosecuted because the statute of limitations on the crime had expired. The prosecution countered that the statute could be suspended if the search for a criminal is likely to be prolonged, as is the case in attempting to match a sample in a database.

The Jerusalem prosecutor’s office responded to the court decision, saying “the sentence handed down today reflects a determined and uncompromising fight by the enforcement authorities to eliminate crime and to prosecute sex offenders even years after the crimes were committed.

“The court accepted this opinion and decided that crimes as grave as those committed by the accused deserve a prolonged prison sentence. They also decided even a criminal who fled and can’t be found will receive a suitable punishment even years later, without the protection and immunity provided by the statute of limitations.”

He added that the plea bargain was signed out of consideration for the plaintiff’s difficulty in testifying years after the incident.