The daughter of a Beit Shemesh woman accused of abusing her 12 children testified on her mother's behalf at the Jerusalem District Court on Sunday, saying the defendant was a "righteous woman."
The woman was indicted on April 1 on charges that she beat her children with a belt, a stick and an electric wire, tied one of them, stepped on another's feet and caused them serious injuries in other ways.
The daughter testified on Sunday that the charges in the indictment were false and that the events described in it never happened. "She might have been capable of slapping on one occasion, but not what you describe," said the witness. "She is a warm and caring mother."
Addressing her mother's black full-body covering, the daughter said, "because of her dress, she was described as a 'Taliban mother'." She added that the police threatened her and scared her.
The daughter, herself a divorced mother of one, was permitted by the court to move back in with her parents. "My son misses his grandparents. I am proud to place him there. I don't have any concern that my father will harm him."
The defendant's attorney, Orna Sabag Arouati, said prior to entering the courtroom on Sunday that "the prosecution and the police put words into the children's mouths to make them accuse their mother. This is a witch hunt. They took the children, who had never experienced an investigation before, and questioned them under caution. They made terrible accusations to force them to say awful things about the mother."
The attorney added that the mother had suffered "psychological disability and the welfare services provided no help."
The indictment against the mother includes numerous child abuse charges, including 25 counts of aggravated assault against six of her 12 children. According to the indictment, the defendant cut her daughters' hair as a form of punishment, tied up one of her children, and on one occasion put out a match on her son's chest. The indictment goes on to say that she had habitually woken up her children by pouring water on them and locked them out of the house. The indictment also suggests that there were incestuous relations between the children when they were locked in a shed outside the house.
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