Man convicted in Israel’s most notorious murder case acquitted after 16 years

Mother of teen murdered in 2006 condemns ‘lies and cover-ups’ and brands district attorney’s office a criminal organisation

After 16 years in jail, Roman Zadorov, who was convicted in the 2006 murder of 13-year-old Tair Rada, was acquitted on Thursday in what appears to be the end of an unprecedented legal drama in Israel.

The acquittal came two years after the supreme court ruled, following Mr Zadorov’s appeal, that Israel’s most infamous murder case should be re-examined in a new trial.

Tair Rada was murdered when her throat was slit in a toilet cubicle at her school in Katzrin in the Golan Heights, where Mr Zadorov worked as a caretaker. Mr Zadorov admitted to the killing and re-enacted the murder, but retracted the confession a day later.

The prosecution characterised Mr Zadorov as manipulative and an impulsive sexual degenerate subject to uncontrollable fits of rage.


The murder case continued to attract media coverage over the years due to the brutal way in which the girl was murdered and continuing claims that Mr Zadorov was innocent. Despite his conviction, many believe he confessed under duress and that the real murderer may still be at large.

After the Nazareth district court acquitted Mr Zadorov in a two-to-one majority vote, court president Asher Kula said Mr Zadorov’s confession and re-enactment did not fit with the findings at the murder scene.

“The prosecution has failed. Zadorov is neither a sadist nor a paedophile, but a courteous and submissive man,” said Mr Kula.

Addressing Tair Rada’s mother, Ilana, he said: “Tair, who was taken away in the prime of her life, may have taken her secret with her to her grave.”

Judge Tamar Nissim-Shai, who held the minority opinion, claimed that the new evidence that was presented in the course of the retrial failed to present an alternative account of the murder, arguing that the evidence was sufficient to convict Mr Zadorov beyond any reasonable doubt.

Upon leaving the court, Mr Zadorov, now aged 45, said that truth had prevailed and he now wanted to return home to his children. When asked by journalists who had murdered Tair Rada, he said that he would keep his thoughts to himself.

After the verdict was read, the victim’s mother described the state attorney’s office as a criminal organisation.

“Sixteen years of lies and cover-ups, in the course of which the state attorney’s office ‘murdered’ my daughter. The war is only just beginning,” she said. “The next step is to begin to search for the real murderers. We know where to go.”

In the past the mother claimed that Mr Zadorov had been framed because as an immigrant from Ukraine who spoke little Hebrew, he was an easy target and she called for the arrest of a man and woman who she named as the possible killers.

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Jerusalem