State Releases Woman Wrongfully Jailed for 18 Months

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Israel's state prosecutor Shai Nitzan, in 2014.
State prosecutor Shai Nitzan.Credit: Moti Milrod

The state released a woman on Monday who had been jailed for 18 months for conspiring to murder her husband after the state prosecution withdrew its indictment and said she could go home to her three children.

The summary arguments in the trial of Nur Haj Yihye of Taibeh were supposed to take place Tuesday, but the Central District prosecution announced that it was retracting the charges against her for conspiring to murder Sayif Haj Yihye, her husband of 13 years. She had been arrested a year and a half ago, along with Omar Azam, with whom she was having an affair, according to the charge sheet.

Nur and Azam were originally indicted for conspiring to murder Sayif by means of numerous phone calls and correspondence. “After they decided to precipitate his death, [Nur] sent Azam a message in which she suggested that she would tell him when her husband left the house. In accordance with that plan, at around 18:15 she told him, ‘He’s just left now,’” the indictment read.

“At that point Azam and another man, who were armed and masked, started to follow Sayif’s car in a stolen vehicle. When they reached the Kedma police station they shot at least eight bullets at his car with the intention of killing him.”

For her part, Nur vehemently denied any involvement in the killing and refused to testify in court. As a result, the prosecution decided now, “based on the developments in the case and the evidentiary difficulties arising from it, the prosecution believed that there was no longer a reasonable chance for a conviction and as such decided to retract the indictment."

According to attorney Zvi Amnon, who represented Haj Yihye, this was an unprecedented instance of the prosecution and police backing down after they’d essentially framed an innocent person.

“We’re talking about a young woman who never left her house without someone accompanying her," Amnon said. "There was no basis for the claim that she was having an affair with the second suspect, and the text messages that allegedly came from her device weren’t from it at all. She sat 541 days in jail for no reason and was released. It’s simply scandalous.”

Meanwhile, attorneys for Azam reached a plea agreement under which the charges of murder and conspiracy to murder were dropped, leaving only his conviction for carrying a weapon and ammunition in place.

“Inconsistencies in the evidence leave no room to ascribe the act of murder to the accused,” the amended indictment read. Azam was sentenced to four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.

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