Police error leads to plea bargain in 'honor killing' case

State's arm twisted in case of four Lod siblings accused of 'honor killing' after police mistake places department's informant in danger. Charges reduced from murder to manslaughter, men to serve 20-year sentence

Vered Luvitch
11.04.08, 18:03 / Israel News

A critical error by the police left the State Prosecutor's Office no choice but to sign a plea bargain with two brothers accused of murdering their sister. The plea bargain included reducing the charges against the two from murder to manslaughter.

The police inadvertently gave the defendants' attorney a videotape revealing the identity of the police informant used in their case, thus putting his life in danger. Once the video was returned to the State Prosecutor's Office, both sides agreed to the plea under which the brothers would be convicted on a sole count of manslaughter, and be sentences to 20 years in jail.

Salameh and Ahmed Abu Ghanem were convicted of killing their sister Rim Abu Ghanem in March 2006.

Shortly before her murder, Rim Abu Ghanem ran away from her parents’ home to that of a young man in Kfar Qassem with whom she fell in love.

Betrothed to another man, Rim was returned to her parents’ home a day after she fled. Two of the brothers even signed a police document assuring authorities she will not be harmed.

The man to whom Rim was engaged later decided to call the engagement off, prompting the four Abu Ghanem to conspire to harm their sister. Suleiman Abu Ghanem, a doctor at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, gave his brother Ahmed sleeping tablets and instructed him on how to sedate their sister.

A tangled web

Once asleep, Rim was strangled by her brothers. They then proceeded to wrap her in a blanket, place her in the trunk of their car and drive to a nearby field. The girl awoke and started speaking with Salameh. He, along with the another brother, tried to convince her to admit that she had "disgraced" the family’s honor.

The brothers Salameh and Muhammad suffocated her again, wrapped her body in the blanket and disposed of it by dumping it a nearby well.

Defense attorneys Moshe Sherman and David Yiftach told the court about the circumstances leading to the plea bargain and of the tape which could endanger the life of the informant. The defense team further told the court that they had a witness who claims he knows the informant.

Given the circumstances, explained the defense, the State had no other recourse but to plead them out.

Attorney Ayala Oren, for the State Prosecutor's Office explained the circumstances of the police mistake to the court, and added that the fact that the brothers confessed to the act was significant to serving the public's interest.

In accordance with the plea, three of the brothers will confess to killing Rim and will face a 20-year sentence. The fourth brother, who did not take an active part in the act of murder, will serve a 12-year sentence.

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Thank you to the International Campaign Against Honour Killings for the tip: