Jewish child rape case: New testimony will decide fate of accused

Newly gathered information could determine whether the Arab indicted for the crime will be prosecuted.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Sources close to the investigation of the rape of a seven-year-old Jewish child say that new testimony collected by the police last week could make or break the case against the sole Arab man to be indicted for the crime, Channel 2 News reported Friday.

Mahmoud Katusa was charged last Sunday with rape, assault and abduction of the Haredi youngster, who went to a school in which he worked as a part-time janitor. However, many questions surrounding the case have emerged since then, throwing the matter of his guilt into doubt.

Police reporter Moshe Nussbaum quoted sources who said that gathering the new testimony involved “a complex and sensitive operation, and it also require[d] assistance from elements in the Haredi community in the town where the girl lives.”

According to the report, and in contradiction to what is in the charge sheet, at this stage of the investigation it is believed that the child was definitely sexually abused, but it is now uncertain whether this is a case of actual rape.

One of the problems in the case is that the police did not send the girl’s underwear to a forensic lab, which might have contained the attacker’s DNA. The police have said that the relevant clothing was over a week old by the time the family reported the crime to them.

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Katusa has also supplied an alibi for the day the attack allegedly took place. However, the victim’s lawyer told Arutz 7 Sunday that “The suspect lied in the polygraph” test he took.

The police again questioned several people who might be able to shed light on the facts surrounding the sensitive case, including the girl’s mother, her principal, the owner of the apartment in which the crime allegedly took place, and one of Katusa’s employers.

Regardless of whether Katusa’s detention is extended on Tuesday, or the indictment against him is withdrawn, investigators will continue their inquiries, said the report. The investigation will include a thorough review of the conduct of investigators, the school administration, the doctor who examined the girl, and the social services employees who should have reported the incident to police even before the family did.