Following a bungled investigation into a case which shocked the nation, the Israel Defense Forces’ military counsel announced Tuesday morning that charges against 44-year-old Palestinian Authority resident Mahmoud Katusa were being dropped.
“The evidentiary basis for the indictment does not at this time amount to a ‘reasonable chance of conviction.’ Therefore, by law, the criminal process cannot continue, the indictment must be withdrawn and Katusa released from custody,” military prosecutor Sharon Afek said in a statement.
The announcement came almost two months after Katusa, a maintenance custodian at an unnamed girls’ school in Samaria, was arrested.
Katusa was charged with dragging the young girl to a vacant building in the town and violently assaulting her while two of his friends held her down.
However, the case began to unravel as it was revealed that police investigators had collected almost no forensic evidence, and that the site and date of the attack were unclear.
Last week, new investigators were assigned in an effort to verify the girl’s testimony against Katusa. Investigators searched the girl’s home and seized her clothing in an effort to locate DNA evidence.
An anonymous official connected to the investigation was cited by The Times of Israel as saying it took over two months for police to search the family’s home, and that the girl had only been able to positively identify Katusa after her mother arrived at the school and pointed at him.
Additionally, a polygraph test failed by Katusa was revealed to have been conducted in Hebrew, rather than in the suspect’s native Arabic.
Afek said the investigation would continue against Katusa, as well as being expanded into “additional directions.”