Israel Police Release Suspect in Pregnant Wife's Killing Due to Lack of Evidence

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Rawan al-Katnani and her father.
Rawan al-Katnani and her father.Credit: Courtesy of the family.

Israel Police on Monday released a man suspected of beating his pregnant wife to death earlier this month in Rahat, a mostly Bedouin city in the Negev in southern Israel. The man’s cousin, who was suspected of tampering with evidence and aiding in the killing, was also released from jail.

Rawan al-Katnani, 28 at the time of her death, was in the 22nd week of pregnancy; she is survived by three children between the ages of five and nine.

The husband, Ala al-Katnani, and his cousin, Mamdukh al-Katnani, a dentist from Rahat, were released with restrictions after the autopsy did not provide clear-cut evidence that the injuries to Rawan’s head were caused by deliberate blows from another person. Ala, 32, denied any involvement in her death and said he found her in the bathroom of their home, bleeding.

The two were ordered to stay out of the city for 21 days and were forbidden to contact anyone involved in the case, including relatives and other suspects.

Police investigators found Rawan in the shower in her home with head injuries. She was evacuated in serious condition to Soroka Medical Center in nearby Be’er Sheva, where she was determined to be clinically brain-dead. She died a day later.

Even though her husband was arrested on suspicion of beating her and causing her death, he was not suspected of murder, but instead of manslaughter, aggravated assault and battery and obstruction of justice by disturbing the alleged crime scene.

Rawan’s father, Shahade al-Karinawi, said in an interview with Army Radio after her death that he knew his son-in-law had beaten her. “They had incidents of domestic violence, it was resolved in a good way, we reconciled with it,” he said. “A week ago, too, she was beaten and came to me. She told me: ‘Dad, I’m sick of it already.’ I told her that problems can happen to anyone, it is better to raise your own children, that he will change.”

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