Satmar couple are held over daughter 'kidnap'

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 2, 2010

A man and woman from the Satmar community in Stamford Hill were arrested last week at Ben Gurion Airport on suspicion that they were trying to take their 21-year-old daughter out of the country against her will. The pair were charged on Sunday at Tel Aviv District Court with attempted kidnap.

The daughter, who also has Israeli citizenship, and her parents arrived in Israel three months ago, with her brother who studies at a yeshivah in Jerusalem.

According to the charges made by the district attorney in court, during their stay in Jerusalem, the mother beat her daughter repeatedly and abused her in public, calling her "retarded and mentally ill".

The girl befriended members of a family with whom they were staying, and taking pity on her, they removed her from her parents and allowed her to stay with them in Bnei Brak.

She told her parents that she would not be returning with them to London and after they forcibly tried to take her away, she complained to the police, who warned the parents.

Last week, the father allegedly told his daughter that they were leaving and he wanted to say goodbye. Instead, she was forced into a car and heavily sedated. She was bandaged, taken to the airport where her parents passed her off as having been injured, and they boarded a plane for Bucharest, en route to London.

The family who had befriended her contacted the police, who found the girl on the plane, still on the runway. They arrested the parents and returned the daughter to her hosts who claimed that they were simply helping her to stay in Israel, away from her parents.

The parents' lawyer and various family members claimed that the daughter "had the mental capacity of a child" and that the second family had "interfered" in their efforts to take care of their daughter.

The judge accepted prosecutors' request that due to the severity of the charges, the couple should remain in custody.

Last updated: 4:06pm, December 2 2010