2 Mar 2009

Jerusalem mother in child abuse ring signs plea bargain, turns state's witness

Haaretz - Israel March 2, 2009

By Ofra Edelman

The Jerusalem mother of eight accused of severely abusing her children has turned state's witness and will testify against her partner, Elior Chen, who is suspected of running an abuse ring, and his accomplices.

The mother was convicted yesterday in a plea bargain of abuse, failing to prevent abuse and neglect. Under the deal, she will be sentenced to five years in jail. In reading the verdict, Judge Tzvi Segal stressed he was not a party to the arrangement.

The Jerusalem district attorney said yesterday that immediately after the sentencing, the woman gave a lengthy statement that included many incriminating details that significantly strengthened the cases against the other suspects, and called her testimony a "breakthrough in unraveling this case."

This will ease the process of extraditing Chen from Brasil, where he is in custody.

The mother was arrested in March 2008 and accused of 17 charges of abusing her children, who are between the ages of 4 to 15. The youngest is still in a coma due to the abuse.

The indictment states Chen told the mother her children were possesed, and instructed her to "correct" them.

These "corrections" included forcing the children to eat feces, beating them to the point of causing brain hemorrhages, and burning them on stoves and heaters and with lighters.

Judge Segal agreed to postpone the sentencing until May, pending Chen's extradition from Brasil, to ensure the mother testifies against him at the trial.

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