Ben Uliel's exoneration should follow Zadorov's
Updated: Apr 25
Since the July 2015 arson attack on the Dawabshe family’s house in Kfar Duma, Honenu has assisted many Jews accused of involvement with the crime. For a selection of posts describing Honenu Attorneys’ representation of Amiram Ben Uliel, click here, and for a selection of posts about other defendants and GSS interrogees, click here. To familiarize our readers with the case, Honenu has gathered – click here – various articles and short videos on the subject.
Sunday, April 2, 2023, 15:06 Several days ago, the State of Israel received the stunning news of Roman Zadorov's exoneration from the murder of Tair Rada, z"l, in a retrial. The panel of judges ruled that the evidence on which the case was based is insufficient to convict Zadorov. In light of Zadorov's exoneration, Attorney Asher Ohayon, who represented Amiram Ben Uliel during his trial, is calling for a retrial in his case. Ben Uliel was accused of murder following a deadly arson attack in Kfar Duma in July 2015, and convicted in May 2020. His conviction was based solely on a confession extracted from him following interrogation under extreme duress – a euphemism for torture – by the GSS. In September 2020, Ben Uliel was sentenced to three life terms plus 17 years' imprisonment.
Attorney Ohayon explained why the similarity between the two cases demands a retrial for Ben Uliel: "The exoneration in the Zadorov case highlights the injustice done to Amiram Ben Uliel. Particularly when evidence is lacking, cases that are based on a confession by the defendant of their crime raise the concern that the confession was extracted by invalid means. Similar to the Zadorov case, in which the confession of murder was extracted from him by illegal means, the confession by Ben Uliel of the murder in Duma was also extracted by invalid means."
Attorney Ohayon further stated that pressure from the media regarding various issues prompted the investigators to complete the investigation quickly and so they approved the use of torture: "At times, there is a great temptation for investigators to solve a case quickly because of intense scrutiny by the media that are pressuring them to close the case. In both the Zadorov case and the Duma case, all of Israel was in an uproar following the murders. The uproar and public criticism resulted in the police wanting to solve the cases at any price. This pressure, combined with a lack of substantial evidence, shows a great likelihood that a false confession was given. Zadorov was fortunate. After he was convicted, additional evidence was discovered that led to his retrial.
"Amiram Ben Uliel has not been so fortunate. In Ben Uliel's case, invalid means of interrogation of the worst kind since the founding of the State of Israel were used. Amiram was tortured by the GSS for more than 17 days. Under such torture, in the end, even the strongest individual would break down and confess. In a democratic country in which human rights and the rights of suspects are fundamental, sending someone to three terms of life imprisonment based on a false confession extracted by torture is a violation of its democratic character. Cases such as these test the democracy of a country by showing the extent to which the human rights of interrogatees are maintained. What was done to Amiram is an act of villainy. During the entire length of his trial, Amiram stressed that he retracted his confession and that he had confessed only so that the torture would stop.
"The State of Israel must not validate confessions extracted by invalid means. Amiram is sitting in prison only because he was tortured, not because he committed the crimes to which he confessed. This could happen to any citizen. The Zadorov case clearly proves this. They took a man who worked at the crime site and caused him to confess to the act. Zadorov's exoneration is an opportunity for Israeli society to remove the shame of Ben Uliel's conviction. His conviction would be considered legitimate only by dark regimes," stated Attorney Ohayon, who emphasized that violating the rights of interrogatees violates the principles of democracy:
Several days ago, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat, also called for the release of Amiram Ben Uliel: "In light of the exoneration of Roman Zadorov, the criticism of the court regarding the confession that was obtained from him by deception, and certainly, in light of the ruling which states that such a confession has no value, the State Attorney's Office must undergo a thorough self-examination.All the interrogators who fraudulently pieced together Roman Zadorov's case should be dismissed and penalized.
"Now, we must definitely make a concerted effort for the release of Amiram Ben Uliel, whose confession was extracted by intense torture. This confession is not worth the paper it was written on. This Shabbat, it is very important to pray for him, especially since it is Shabbat HaGadol, the last Shabbat before Passover, the 'Holiday of Freedom.'"