Suspect in child rape case released for lack of evidence

“The possibility that the rapist will walk free frightens me… We will do everything we can to change the decision,” said attorney Yehuda Fried.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The State prosecution withdrew Tuesday its indictment of Mahmoud Katusa, the Palestinian suspect in the rape of a seven-year-old Jewish girl, and he will be freed.

“After reviewing the evidence in the case, the additional investigations that were performed, and an analysis of the investigative enquiries that still must be carried out, the MAG [Military Advocate General] believes that at this time, there is no reasonable chance of convicting Katusa in this case. Therefore, the MAG decided to rescind the indictment and allow the Israel Police to continue completing the investigation,” the prosecution’s statement said.

Although this was “the decision that was required professionally” at this time in light of the evidence collected so far, the statement also made it clear that Katusa was not yet completely off the hook.

“The police investigation will continue all the more forcefully, both regarding Katusa as well as in other directions…to reach the truth.”

Mahmoud Katusa, a resident of a Palestinian Authority town near Modi’in Illit, was arrested on May 1 after the child victim had reportedly pointed him out as her attacker. When the investigation against him turned up other evidence that strengthened suspicions against him, the military prosecution indicted him for rape, assault and kidnaping.

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However, the continuing investigation found problematic issues with the case.

According to the prosecution’s statement, the child’s family told the authorities on Monday that it had additional evidence, after which the police collected items from her home, including some clothes.

“The evidence was sent to the laboratory for examination, and investigative activities were also taken as a result, including the taking of testimonies,” the statement said. “At this stage, the results of these actions do not strengthen the evidentiary basis against Katusa.”

MAG head Major General Sharon Afek made the decision together with representatives of the State Prosecutor’s Office and the police to drop the indictment.

The girl’s lawyer, Yehuda Fried, did not accept the decision.

Speaking on 10FM Radio, the attorney said, “The possibility that the rapist will walk free frightens me. The possibility that he will return to working in the school is horrifying. We will do everything we can to change the decision.”