An Israeli court ordered Tuesday an examination into whether a 16-year-old Jewish teen suspected of killing a Palestinian woman in the West Bank can be placed under house arrest.
The minor charged with manslaughter was arrested in late December on suspicion of committing the racially-motivated murder of 47-year-old Aisha Mohammed Rabi.
A gag order imposed on the case prevents the publication of the suspect's name, as well as those of four other suspects arrested in early January and released almost a week later, all students in the same yeshiva in a West Bank settlement.
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According to the indictment, the suspects stood on a hill near Route 60 in the central West Bank on October 12. The suspect "held a rock weighing close to two kilograms, with the intention of using it to harm Arab passengers, out of an ideological motive of racism and hostility toward Arabs everywhere." The court later decided to release the other four suspects.
Lod District Court Judge Hagai Tarsi said the Probation Service would examine the possibility of releasing the minor to house arrest with an electronic monitoring device at his grandparents' house in Kfar Saba. Should their house meet the necessary requirements, the suspect is expected to be released to full house arrest within a week.
"It is impossible to ignore the fact that the main evidence against the minor is circumstantial," the judge wrote in reference to the minor's DNA found on the stone that caused Rabi's death.
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The judge said the suspect would be under the supervision of his parents, grandparents or other designated family members 24 hours a day, and that he would be forbidden from contacting others. In addition, the judge would set the suspect's bail at 100,000 shekels ($27,000).
In January, prosecutors announced that the state intended to indict the teen within five days, but when that period ended, both sides informed the court that he had changed his mind and wished to give his own version of events. The minor denied his involvement in the incident.
“The prosecutor’s office, together with the Israel Police, has operated in the fairest manner and despite the fact that the minor refrained from giving his version of events throughout all of his interrogations, allowed him to have another interrogation…,” the judge wrote.
“The minor provided a version of events that ostensibly can provide a certain explanation for the main evidence collected in the case, the DNA findings on the rock that caused the death of the deceased.”
The judge also wrote that he initially felt that the minor’s version of events could “open a significant gap in the alleged evidentiary basis that would justify rejecting the state’s request, and releasing the minor under very restrictive conditions.”
According to transcripts of his interrogation, the minor denied that he had thrown stones at Rabi's vehicle, negating the DNA evidence that implicated him.
"I was walking around a lot in that area and might have spat and hit a rock. I've chosen to live my life according to the Torah, I'm not a person that would do something like this," the minor said in his testimony.