Prosecutors dropped the indictment against a Palestinian Authority resident accused of abducting and raping a seven-year-old in a haredi town near Modi’in.
According to a statement released Tuesday by prosecutors, the suspect, Mahmoud Katusa, will be freed, and the indictment filed against him last Sunday dropped.
“After additional examinations of the material in the investigation, the chief army prosecutor…found that the evidentiary basis for the indictment does not satisfy the requirement of having a ‘reasonable chance of leading to a conviction’. As such, in keeping with the court’s instructions, the criminal proceedings cannot be continued, and the indictment must be withdrawn, and Katusa released from arrest.”
Despite the decision to release Katusa and withdraw the indictment, investigators said the probe would continue, focusing both on Katusa and “other directions”.
“The police investigation will continue and intensify, both in connection with Katusa as well as in other directions.”
“As soon as the investigation has an evidentiary basis for submitting a new indictment against Katusa or others, it will be done.”
The bombshell announcement came Tuesday morning, following new revelations in the case, which first went public last Sunday.
Last week, army prosecutors filed an indictment against 46-year-old Mahmoud Katusa, a resident of the Palestinian Authority town of Deir Qaddis, near Modi’in Illit.
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 on May 1st, 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.