At the end of a decisive session with the Military Advocate General (MAG), the military prosecution announced cancellation of the indictment and asked to release Mahmud Ketusa from the detention: “We have found certain evidence indicating Katusha’s involvement in the injury of the girl but not enough for a reasonable chance of conviction in court.
On Tuesday morning, the Judge Advocate General’s Office shelved the indictment against 44-year-old Mahmud Katusa from Deir Qadis, who was accused of rape of the seven-year-old girl from Modi’in Illit. Katusa will be sent home. In a dramatic decision made at the end of a meeting convened by Judge Advocate General (res.) Sharon Afek with representatives of the State Prosecutor’s Office and the police, it was said that there was insufficient evidence to establish an indictment. The findings of the supplementary investigation conducted in recent days only sharpened the evidentiary difficulties in the case.
On April 15, the girl’s parents filed a complaint with the police against Katusa and others. In which they stated that their daughter had been sexually assaulted earlier, and that many of the interrogations were carried out, including the taking of testimony from the child by a skilled child investigator. The police investigation will continue with greater force, both in terms of status and in other directions, with the aim of exhausting the investigation and reaching the truth.
Deir Qadis is a Palestinian town in Area B which is under the municipal responsibility of the Palestinian Authority and on the security responsibility of Israel. Cases like this one highlight the practical complications of having three different overlapping government infrastructures operation separately in one geographical area. The gaps between them cause chaos.
The MAG announced that, “After examining the evidence in the case, the completion of the investigation and the analysis of the investigative actions that are yet to be carried out, the MAG believes that at this time there is no reasonable chance of convicting Katusa. Therefore, the MAG decided to backtrack from the indictment and allow the Israel Police to continue the investigation.”
In light of this, the Military Prosecution informed the military court of that it will take back the indictment and requested that Katusa be released from detention. “It is clear that cancellation of an indictment and the release of a defendant from detention, in a situation in which there is some evidence against him on charges of sexual offenses of a minor, is not a trivial matter, and in light of the fabric of evidence collected so far, this is the most appropriate professional decision.”
In an announcement of the Military Advocate General’s decision, it was noted that “according to the position of all the professionals involved in handling the case, the evidentiary basis underlying the indictment does not rise at this time to a reasonable chance of conviction.” Therefore, according to the law, the indictment should be retracted and Katusa must released from detention.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Office stated in response to the Judge Advocate General’s decision that “following the testimony of the girl and her pointed at Katusa, it was decided to interrogate him as a suspect. Based on evidence in the case, we decided to order his arrest. Since then his detention has been extended by the court from time to time, on eight other occasions, according to the progress of the investigation.
“In the course of the investigation, evidence was gathered that reinforced the suspicions against Katusa beyond the testimony of the child, including certain identification procedures and matching between the details provided by the child and findings on the ground.” The military prosecution examined the evidence gathered during the investigation, The case establishes a sufficient evidentiary basis for bringing Katusa to trial, and therefore he must be indicted.”
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