Awaiting Murder Verdict, Golan Heights Settlement Is Divided Over Defendant

Some locals believe Roman Zadorov killed young Ta’ir Rada here in 2006, others think police framed him.

Roman Zadorov appears at the Jerusalem Supreme Court for his appeal, December 23, 2015.
Dudu Vaknin

The Rada family home in Katzrin was empty yesterday. Ilana, mother of Tair, murdered at 14 in her school nine years ago, was in the Supreme Court, waiting for the final verdict. The father Shmuel is in hospital.

A large chair stood at the entrance, ready to be taken to the synagogue built in Tair’s name. Her brother sat at a neighbor’s house watching Internet news on his mobile phone, but didn’t want to talk to anyone. In the yard of the Nofei Golan school, where Tair was stabbed to death, children played.

Nine years after the murder, the case is still agitating the settlement of Katzrin on the Golan Heights. Almost everyone has a view or a theory about the murder and Roman Zadorov’s conviction. Almost nobody agrees to be quoted by name, for fear of offending the bereaved family.

A close family friend, an ex-policeman who lives not far from the Rada residence and in whose home Ilana worked for years as a housekeeper, says Zadorov had worked for him during the week of the murder. “The police didn’t have a clue. That day I told my wife, They’re going to find someone and frame him for it.”

He doesn’t believe Zadorov is the murderer. “The man worked in my house, he didn’t raise his head from the floor, hardly a cup of coffee. Why and for what did they convict him?”

He says he met the investigators after the murder in the Rada home. “I wanted to ask them how long they let Zadorov sleep while he was being interrogated. They wouldn’t tell me.”

His wife disagrees. She says she sensed “something mysterious” in Zadorov. “He worked at renovations with gloves, like a doctor. Didn’t talk to any of the workers,” she says.

Mother: 'Don't trust the state'

After yesterday’s court hearing, Ilana Rada called on the public “not to trust the state.” She said, “There’s still a long way to go, it’s not over, the court left a window open, that perhaps he’s not guilty. I thought they’d look in a different way at things that came up since the previous verdicts, but it will happen. I’ll continue chasing my daughter’s murderer to the end of my life.”

Parents of murder victim Ta'ir Rada hold up her picture at court in Nazareth, September 14, 2010.
Yaron Kaminsky

Katzrin’s commercial center was quiet. “I can’t say anyone knows for certain, it’s all gut feelings,” says a woman from a nearby community, who believes Zadorov is innocent. Another woman says, “Something stinks, something isn’t kosher and I’m not the only one who thinks so.”

A friend of the Rada family told Haaretz the legal saga caused many arguments in Katzrin, even within the Rada family, between Tair’s mother and father and between them and acquaintances. The family friend is convinced Zadorov is guilty and all the doubts were raised by the police work.

“The police did a terrible job and didn’t close the school after the murder,” he says. “They ran to the media. This is why conspiracy theories were created. It’s a good thing the court ruled,” he says.

He adds that all Ilana Rada’s “thoughts stem from various rumors, because they police didn’t do their job properly.”