Out of the Spotlight, Case Goes on

For many long months the courtroom at the Nazareth District Court where the trial of Roman Zadorov is being held has been nearly empty. Accused in the murder of 13-year-old Tair Rada at her Katzrin school, Zadorov spends most of the time sitting stone-faced in the prisoner's dock. A Russian translator whispers what is being said into his ear.

Three meters away sits his wife Olga, listening attentively. Sometimes she whispers to his lawyers, attorneys David and Galil Spiegel.

In the other section of wooden benches sit the girl's parents, Ilana and Shmuel Rada. Their beloved daughter, who had been the center of their life, has become a name in a murder case that has aroused public interest for more than two years.

To this day, the parents have not missed a single court session. Agonizingly, they even listened to the descriptions of the murder and how their daughter cried "Mommy" and looked back at the murderer with stunned eyes.

However, at the start of the defense phase about two months ago a storm broke in the courtroom of Judges Yitzchak Cohen, Chaim Galpaz and Ester Hellman. The media that had disappeared returned and one of the most extensively covered murder trials the country has known was back in the headlines.

The defense and the prosecution have also started sparring again outside the courtroom in Nazareth, and this week the mudslinging between the sides escalated. Defense witness Haim Sadovsky, who has been carefully combing through the case materials for two years took the witness stand.

He promised an earthquake once he proved how Zadorov had been led in the reconstruction, how it is not possible that Rada was murdered in the toilet stall where she was found but rather had been dragged there after the fact and how it was two people who murdered the girl.

But something went wrong. Large parts of his testimony collapsed in face of objections from prosecuting attorneys Sheila Inbar and Mirit Stern. During one recess, when he tried to talk to the bereaved parents, he was attacked by the girl's father.

At the next session, on March 1, defense attorney Spiegel stated that the witness had collapsed and he feared for his health. The prosecution did not concede and announced that it wanted to cross-examine the witness. Then the defense announce that it wanted to revoke the testimony that had already been heard and expunge it from the record.

"Sadovsky's promises... shattered with his flight from the witness stand," the prosecution wrote in a statement, which according to the defense was also accompanied by malicious leaks about Sadovsky's past. A day after he collapsed, on Monday, Sadovsky, together with the defense attorneys, invited reporters to a press conference at a cafe near Kiryat Shmona and attempted to restore his honor.

"In the court I felt like the lowliest of criminals who shouldn't be listened to," said Sadovsky emotionally. "I did not break down and I did not flee from testifying. I stopped my testimony because of the prosecution's relentless objections, which prevented me from telling the truth and because of the scathing, scornful and humiliating attitude towards me on the part of the Court President Yitzchak Cohen."

The reaction of attorney Nitzan Eyal, spokeswoman of the courts in the north was, "The record of the session speaks for itself and these are things that are baseless an without foundation. The witness was treated in a proper and matter-of-fact way - like every witness."

According to Sadovsky, the questioning was based entirely on the police investigation material and there, he says, he found that "a case was fabricated against Zadorov."

In response the prosecution declared that it was "glad to find that the witness Sadovsky has recovered from the heath and psychological difficulties," and announced that it would now apply to the court for Sadovsky to complete the statement that had been truncated.

Confession under pressure

When the dust settles, the media will have disappeared and on the public benches will remain only the bereaved parents and the wife of the accused. From his testimony it will emerge that the defense line is intended to show that in the interrogations a dynamic was created that led to Zadorov's confession with investigative details "planted" in his mind.

Thus, for example, in his testimony Zadorov related that when he showed the investigator how he had stabbed the girl in her abdomen, the investigator said to him, "No. Think again."

"I realized that I had to indicate another part of the body," said Zadorov. "All the time they kept telling me, 'You've committed the murder, we have witnesses, there is the polygraph.'"

Zadorov claims that he confessed to the murder under heavy pressure and that during the interrogation the investigators revealed to him details about the crime scene that he had not known.

At one session MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima) joined in and said, "A case has been fabricated against Zadorov because he is a new immigrant."

The blossoming of varied theories as to the identity of the murderer - or murderers, by some accounts - derives in part from the fact that investigators have not found a "smoking gun."

The murder weapon disappeared and no evidence was found at the scene connecting Zadorov to the murder, apart from shoe prints on the victim's pants.

These prints were described in detail by an internationally recognized expert in the field, Superintendent Yaron Shor.

"On Tair Rada's pants signs were found that indicate eight traces of prints from the shoes that Roman Zadorov was wearing on the day of the schoolgirl's murder," he asserted.

The defense says that in the near future an English expert will come with an opinion to refute Shor's .

The strong desire to find some detail linking Zadorov led dozens of police to rummage through garbage at the Te'enim dump, where Katzrin's garbage goes, looking for Zadorov's pants.

The prosecution has also had to focus on the personality and actions of the accused. Thus, for example, they discovered that on the day of the murder two schoolgirls entered the shelter where Zadorov was working and disturbed him.

In his interrogation he said that they had annoyed him, but he did not throw them out of the shelter for fear that they would say he hit them and tried to rape them. In the prosecution's argument it amarged that on the night of the murder Zadorov told his family details he should not have known. In the testimony of his mother-in-law, Evgenia Greishev, it emerged that on the evening of the murder Zadorov reassured his wife and told her the girl had not been murdered in the shelter where he worked, even though he should not have known this detail.

Tair Rada, an eighth-grader, was killed December 6, 2006 at the Nofei Golan School in Katzrin. Her body was discovered in a locked toilet stall, at approximately 7:00 P.M., after a number of hours of searching, with signs of knife slashes on her body.

Four days after the murder, Zadorov, a 30-year-old Katzrin resident, was detained for questioning. Two days later, he was arrested.

At the start of the trial the defense argued Zadorov had been directed to information, eroding his initial statements, and that he had been subjected to unbearable pressure.

They also argue against the timing as Zadorov was outside the school at the time of the murder.