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Tel Aviv Criminal Lawyer Named to Defend Rohen, Charged with Setting Mosque Fire

A Jerusalem district court has appointed Itzhak Tunik, a well known criminal lawyer from Tel Aviv, to defend Michael Denis William Rohen, the 28-year-old Australian national charged with setting fire to the El Aksa mosque in East Jerusalem Aug. 21.

The accused has said he did not want legal counsel. He has refused to appear before a special committee inquiring into the causes of the fire even though several witnesses have incriminated him and he is entitled, under Israeli law, to question them. Mr. Rohen, reportedly a member of a fundamentalist Protestant sect, confessed to Israeli police that he set the mosque afire because “God told him to.” But he signed a paper waiving the right to appear as a witness or to question other witnesses.