Police claim the third suspect admitted to smoking a hookah in an open area near Usfiya, throwing out the burning coal and not reporting that a fire had erupted. In his interrogation he said that he returned to school after smoking the hookah and reenacted the incident to investigators.
Earlier on Monday, the Haifa District Court ordered that two brothers who were arrested on suspicion they negligently caused the Carmel fire be released from custody. Judge Avraham Elyakim granted their appeal against the Magistrate's Court's decision to extend their remand by three days.
Carmel burning. One coal started whole fire? (Photo: Osnat Eitan, Nature and Parks Authority)
The two are charged with negligence leading to death and fire, but at the hearing on their appeal the judge said he had chosen to be lenient because of the limited evidence presented as well as their status as minors.
The teens were arrested over the weekend. They are suspected of neglecting to put out a fire they had ignited, thus bringing about the deaths of 42 people and torching of thousands of acres of forest, including millions of trees.
'Public being incited against us'
Meanwhile, residents of the Druze council are outraged over the arrests and claim that the public is being incited against them. Usfiya resident Rami Halbi said: "Instead of calming the matters, people are being humiliated at all costs." He claimed that the police's conduct makes the public believe "that all Usfiya residents are prone to arrests."
Another resident, Said Halbi said that the police is looking for excuses and ways to blame "people who were not involved in the fire." He said that all the arrests made raise question marks.
Usfiya councilman Farj Zaher told Ynet that the police is handling the investigation with negligence. He claims that officers were given wrong tips on the suspects.
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