Attorney Yehuda Fried, who is representing the 7-year-old girl allegedly raped by 46-year-old Mahmoud Nazmi Abed Alhamid Katusa, spoke to 103FM Radio about the prosecutor's decision to rescind the indictment.
"Last night at midnight, the family, including the girl herself, were still in police interrogations. The message they received was that all of the proofs had become stronger. Otherwise there is no reason in the world to take a 7-year-old girl to an interrogation at twelve o' clock at night. This morning I ready suddenly that the military prosecutor said that the girl had been raped and that Mahmoud Katusa is still a suspect, but they are recanting the indictment," he said.
"I'm not managing to understand this dissonance. If a person is arrested in connection with rape, the prosecutor writes an indictment against him despite the complexity and decides that he's guilty, and in the middle there are more proofs which only strengthen that - I'm not managing to understand what happened."
I assume you spoke with police sources last night. What did a senior police officer say regarding the girl's testimony?
"Like I said, the proofs were not weakened, they became stronger. I was called to the military prosecutor this morning. We were sure that we're going to hear that due to the new proofs, we're going to work shoulder to shoulder and continue with the indictment and the court case. To our great surprise we heard the exact opposite. How can it be that a person who is charged with rape, who the girl clearly identified four times, including yesterday, when we have the best proofs possible - that the hand that wrote that he is a suspect released him? I think every mother in the State of Israel needs to be very worried that rapists who rape and kidnap a girl are walking freely in the streets. Now he could escape and completely ruin all proofs."
Military prosecutor Sharon Afek wrote that the girl was absolutely raped, but he said there's no real chance of convicting him.
"When he filed the indictment he had all the proofs in front of him. Now they've only become stronger. How does one plus one equal eight?"
Maybe Afek can't stand up to public pressure?
"That's your interpretation."
It's a question.
"I've been an attorney for many years already. In sex cases with a lot less proofs and which happened years ago, with adult women who barely identified the culprit - there was a conviction. How is it that in a sex case where from the first day the girl said she knows the person for many months, writes his name, identifies him in four cross-questionings, gives details about the scene, and the military prosecutor himself says he is a suspect, how in G-d's Name do they free him?"
Do you think there is another rapist who is now walking free?
"The girl said Mahmoud is the guilty one."
They say the mother influenced her testimony.
"Every time I hear that claim my blood boils. Two weeks before that sad identification, which was completely extraneous, the father came to the police and said his daughter had already identified the school's cleaner and maintenance man as the one who had harmed her. Why do we need to identify someone who she knows and knows his job? There's no other janitor in the school. It's just amazing."
Is it true that one of the senior officers said that the girl's testimony yesterday was an incredibly strong testimony?
"Absolutely. I'm not sure if that senior officer himself knew of the decision."
You say that a senior police officer who was at the scene yesterday told you that the girl's testimony was very strong and reliable, but at the same time, the military advocate had already written his decision to rescind the indictment.
"When we asked about the girl's injury and the identification, he said, and I quote: 'I believe the girl.' I am convinced that if that officer and his good unit had been involved from the beginning, we would not be talking today. The Judea and Samaria Unit is an amazing unit which does everything to find the guilty parties. I think that there is a disconnect between the unit, the police, and the prosecutor's decision. I haven't managed to understand that disconnect. I was sure that when the decision was made to file an indictment, the doubts were ended. I was sure that the proofs were good then and that after the proofs from yesterday night, they were even better. I cannot understand how the suspect can continue walking the streets."
Will he go back to working in the school?
"That question sends shivers down my entire body. There's no reason he shouldn't - he's free. Would you want a janitor like that walking around your children's school? I certainly wouldn't."
There's no doubt that this was a huge bombshell, and one thing is clear: The girl was raped and there was negligence which we cannot ignore.
"If someone thinks we're going to let this rest, he's hallucinating. We will consider every legal course of action available in order to reverse this decision."
If I understand you correctly, I don't see the Supreme Court involving itself in this.
"I will do everything I can."
How did the family take the decision?
"They are in total shock. They said that they cannot talk and hung up the phone. I plan to visit them after they've calmed down a bit. I'm also scared for the girl. The moment she hears that the attacker is walking freely in the streets, everything she's accomplished in therapy will backslide. It's adding one rape to another rape to a third rape."