Police force at crime scene
Photo: Tsafrir Abayov
Haredim protest in Jerusalem
Photo: Hagai P

Body of murdered rabbi's wife won't undergo autopsy

After MRI reveals woman killed during Ashkelon robbery was strangled, High Court instructs Jerusalem hospital to release body for burial, despite demand made by State Prosecutor's Office that it undergo autopsy. Zaka chairman: This is a great victory to the MRI method

The High Court of Justice has instructed a Jerusalem hospital to release the body of Ziona Samin, the murdered wife of a prominent rabbi, so it can be buried.


In this ruling, the judges rejected a demand by the State Prosecutor's Office that the body undergo an autopsy, after an MRI revealed that she had been strangled.


The rabbi’s wife was found dead on Wednesday after having been allegedly strangled during a robbery in her Ashkelon home. The family of Ziona Samin, 62, transferred her body to a Jerusalem hospital on Thursday, where an MRI was conducted under the supervision of chief pathologist and director of the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute Yehuda Hiss.


The compromise was reached following the intervention of Shas Minister Yitzhak Cohen and the party's spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, after the family objected to an autopsy.


ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav said in response to the court ruling, "This is a great victory to the MRI method." Samin will be buried on Friday.  


Earlier Thursday, the Magistrates' Court in Ashkelon received the State Prosecutor’s Office's demand to carry out an autopsy, which was followed by the family’s objection and a petition to the High Court of Justice filed by ZAKA members and a political official.


In response to the decision, an Orthodox crowd blocked Bar Ilan Street in Jerusalem using trash cans, and also hurled stones at a police car driving on Shivtei Yisrael Street in town. Rabbi Samin, head of the Yemenite congregation in Ashkelon, found his wife tied and beaten on the floor of their home.


In a hearing held Wednesday at the Magistrate's Court in Ashkelon, Rabbi Samin asked to make do with an external examination of the body and release it for burial. According to him, his wife did not die of the flu or any internal disease. However, the Southern District prosecutor, attorney Yiska Leibovitz demanded the body undergo a postmortem.


'Findings indicate death by strangulation'

Judge Dina Cohen decided to wait until the opinion of Prof. Yehuda Hiss is obtained. The report was received early Thursday, and the judge determined that there was room to conduct an autopsy on the body.


In response, ZAKA’s pro bono attorney Dror Schussheim petitioned The High Court to overrule the verdict. Meanwhile, political officials, including Shas Chairman Eli Yishai were working on the case. Yishai approached Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter and Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen as well as other sources.


Samin’s family members were upset at the judge’s ruling and the prosecutor’s insistence. “The funeral date has been postponed three times already,” Samin’s son-in-law Tal-Or Atari told Ynet. “Rabbi Samin is caving under the pressure of the events and has had to be treated.


“As an Orthodox family, we firmly object to any postmortem and abashment of the deceased’s honor. The Halacha strictly forbids us from doing so, and the family feels like Rebbetzin Samin is being murdered twice,” said Atari.


“All of the findings indicate (death by) strangulation. The prosecution wishes to operate on the body only to rule out any other death causes, should they catch the murderers. This is not a good enough reason to disrespect the dead,” Samin’s son-in-law concluded.


Efrat Weiss and Shmulik Hadad contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 07.03.08, 16:19
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