Couple face jail for 'kidnapping' man who wouldn't give wife religious divorce

A New Jersey couple appeared in US federal court on Monday on charges of kidnapping a man who would not grant his wife a religious divorce.

David and Judy Wax were released on bail but if they are indicted by a grand jury they could face life sentences. Their lawyers said the parents of eight would both plead not guilty.

The couple, both in their late 40s, are alleged to have abducted an Israeli man in October 2010, handcuffed, blindfolded and punched him, then kept him hostage for hours.

They apparently lured him to their home under the pretence that they would be studying the Talmud, then threatened to bury him alive. Mr Wax also faced charges of making a threatening phone call to the victim's father in Israel.

During the call he was alleged to have stated that the man would be killed unless the father paid his son's estranged wife $100,000.

It is understood that the victim had moved to the US after he appeared in a Jerusalem rabbinical court for refusing to give his wife a get, leaving her as an agunah, or chained wife.

According to the court papers the man was released after a failed attempt to withdraw money from a cash machine. The man is not named in the court papers, but the Associated Press said he was called Yisrael Briskman and that the divorce dispute dated back to 2008.

AP also said that the rabbinical court released a notice banning the community from helping Mr Briskman with work, study or lodgings, as part of an attempt to pressure him to agree to a divorce.

It is unclear whether the Briskmans are now divorced or what, if any, the connection was between Mrs Briskman and the Waxes.

Last updated: 1:25pm, July 19 2011