Suspected rapist of 7-year-old girl freed

Relatives of suspected rapist Mahmoud Katusa shout 'Allahu Akhbar', wave Palestinian flags as he is released from jail.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Mahmoud Katusa released from prison
Mahmoud Katusa released from prison
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Mahmoud Katusa, the suspect in the abduction and rape of a seven-year-old Israeli girl, was released from Ofer military prison northwest of Jerusalem Tuesday afternoon, following a decision by prosecutors to withdraw an indictment against him.

Upon his release from prison, Katusa was greeted by friends and family, some of whom waved PLO flags and yelled “Allahu Akhbar”.

“They made up things about me,” said Katusa. “I’m an innocent man. The police can say whatever they want.”

Anwar Katusa, the suspect’s brother, met Mahmoud outside of Ofer prison.

“Thank God the truth has come out. Our hearts are in pain over what happened to this girl, but the truth is that Mahmoud didn’t do it. Catch the person who did.”

On Tuesday, army prosecutors announced that they lacked sufficient evidence to push forward with a trial, and would withdraw the indictment filed against 46-year-old Mahmoud Katusa for the rape of a seven-year-old girl.

“This is a sad day,” said Katusa’s defense attorney, Nasahf Darwish, “but on the other hand it is also a happy day, since an innocent man is being freed.”

“We identify with the girl and her family. My client was not involved – either directly or indirectly – with the story here.”

But the announcement by army prosecutors Tuesday did not clear Katusa in the case.

While acknowledging that they lacked sufficient evidence to take the case to trial, prosecutors wrote in the announcement Tuesday that investigators “believe there is evidence that the girl was sexually assaulted, and there is an evidentiary basis…pointing to Katusa’s involvement in the assault.”

A resident of the Palestinian Authority town of Deir Qaddis, near the haredi city of Modi’in Illit, Katusa has been in custody since May 1st.

Last week, army prosecutors filed an indictment against Katusa, following a lengthy investigation, during which Katusa failed a polygraph test.

Katusa, who had worked both as a maintenance man at a school in a haredi city near Modi’in, and as a construction worker in the same city, was arrested after being accused of abducting a seven-year-old girl from her school, where Katusa worked, carrying her off to a nearby house Katusa was renovating, and raping her.

The indictment said that at least two other Arab workers helped Katusa commit the rape, by holding the victim’s arms and legs.

Later, the victim identified Katusa as the perpetrator, pointing him out to a teacher.

Question arouse shortly after the indictment was filed, however, regarding the veracity of the child’s identification of Katusa as the perpetrator.

The case lacked physical evidence, due in part to the family’s decision not to immediately report the matter to police, and investigators say the victim may have been led by her mother to identify Katusa as the perpetrator.

Despite Katusa having failed a polygraph test during the initial investigation, prior to the indictment, a major discovery at the victim’s home this week changed the prosecution’s position regarding the indictment, Israeli media outlets reported Monday night.