Justice Minister to reexamine 1985 murder conviction

Shaked says she intends to 'carry out renewed examination' of 1985 conviction of 5 Arabs charged with murdering 15-year-old Danny Katz.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

MK Ayelet Shaked
MK Ayelet Shaked

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked will reconsider the conviction of the five Arabs from Sakhnin who were convicted of the murder of youth Danny Katz and were sent to prison for decades, Yediot Aharonot reported.

MK Betzalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) submitted a motion to the Knesset's agenda regarding the case of Katz’s murderers and read in the plenum a letter written by the five Arabs convicted of murder to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, other senior officials, and members of the Katz family.

"You have gone through the terrible pain of losing what is most precious to you, losing your son, and we join you in your sorrow," the five wrote in a letter to Katz's family which Smotrich read. "We did not carry out this terrible murder. We have no connection to it. We preferred to serve the full penalty and come out with heads held high, because our Allah is your God, and he will testify that we did not spill this blood.”

Shaked surprised with her response. "I intend to carry out a renewed examination of the conviction of the murderers of the boy Danny Katz," she said in the plenum. “There’s no doubt we’re talking about a painful episode. In light of the complexity and sensitivity of the subject, I intend to study it and examine what the options are before us. "

Danny Katz, a 15-year-old boy from the Denya neighborhood in Haifa, left his home on February 8, 1983. Three days later, his body was found with signs of severe violence.

Later, it was discovered that five Israeli Arabs, residents of Sakhnin and the surrounding area, noticed the boy walking alone and kidnapped him in their vehicle, heading towards a deserted construction site. During the ride, they blocked his mouth with a rag and beat him with their hands until he lost consciousness.

At the construction site, the five beat Katz to death, and four of them raped him. They then threw his body in bushes near Haifa University. Later in the evening, the five returned to the place where they had placed the body and transferred it to a cave in the Sakhnin area.

In October 1985, the five were convicted in the Haifa District Court. They were found guilty of premeditated murder, kidnapping for murder, and conspiring to commit a crime. Each of them was sentenced to life imprisonment and another 27 years in prison. Shortly after they entered prison, the five began to claim that the confessions were forcibly and violently removed.

Recently, three of the five murderers were released, and since then they have been devoting all their energies to bringing about their retroactive acquittal. Assaf Neventzal, a Jerusalem resident who had no prior acquaintance with the five, took upon himself the task of clearing their names out of a belief in their innocence.