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7-year-old girl at center of rape case delivers new testimony
Lawyers for victim's family says 'dramatic' findings made during fresh police search of child's home; Palestinian suspect due in court Tuesday for hearing about his possible release from custody

A 7-year-old Israeli girl who accused a Palestinian janitor at her school of rape has given fresh testimony to police, after investigators gathered new findings during another search of her home on Monday.

 

 

The man accused of raping the girl, Mahmoud Katusa, will appear at Ofer Military Court in the West Bank on Tuesday morning for a hearing on whether to release him from custody. Katusa, a 46-year-old janitor at the girl's school in the West Bank, has denied all involvement in the attack.

 

Ofer Military Court
Ofer Military Court

 

The new search of the girl's home came after controversial case was handed over to detectives from the Judea and Samaria District, following heavy criticism of the way the investigation had previously been handled.

 

The newly assigned detectives began the investigation from the start, taking testimonies from the principal of the girl's school and from one of the teachers.

 

It is unclear why the new findings were not gathered during previous searches of the home, although detectives decided to return to the house after new information was received Monday morning by the Military Advocate General and Israel Police.

 

Over the next few days, more testimonies will be gathered from previous subjects of questioning. Some of the people set to give testimony again are connected to the suspect and others have ties to the victim.

 

"We were asked the same questions as in the first round of interrogations. It's like they started the investigation from scratch," said one of those who provided testimony for a second time.

 

Mahmoud Katusa is suspected of raping a 7-year-old Israeli girl
Mahmoud Katusa is suspected of raping a 7-year-old Israeli girl

 

Detectives must now focus on two central elements: Firstly, they must verify recently received information that may shed some light on Katusa's alleged involvement in the attack.

 

Secondly, they must attempt to identify the two men that the victim says were there at the scene as the rape took place.

 

If the investigators fail to secure more evidence to further strengthen the case against the suspect, the police may have no choice but to release him.

 

If Katusa is released, it appears - for now at least - that police will have no choice but to drop all charges against him. The military prosecutor is apparently keen to keep pressing charges against the defendant, but the court may order the indictment to be withdrawn.

 

Katusa's defense lawyer has expressed confidence that the charges will be dropped. If they are dropped, police will then have to find the person who did sexually assault the little girl.

 

The lawyer for the girl's family said that recent medical examinations of the girl revealed that she had indeed been sexually assaulted.

 

Last week, Ynet revealed that before the family filed a complaint with the police, they conducted an investigation of their own, potentially corrupting the ensuing police procedure. Police say that the school was informed of the alleged attack two days after it was said to have happened and more than a week before a formal complaint was made.

 

The family lawyers insist that Katusa attacked the girl, saying the victim "definitively identified him twice."  Katusa's lawyer, however, says the investigative material shows that the girl's parents tried to coach her to name his client as the attacker.

 


פרסום ראשון: 06.24.19, 18:07
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