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A doctor was arrested yesterday on suspicion of sedating a young woman whose parents sought to kidnap her from Israel to England. The suspect, whose identity is under a gag order, is a department head at a state-owned psychiatric hospital.

The parents, both residents of England, were indicted in the Tel Aviv District Court in November for the attempted kidnapping of their 21-year-old daughter. According to the indictment, the daughter had been living with relatives in Bnei Brak, but the parents didn't want her to stay in Israel.

On November 23, they invited her to a Tel Aviv cafe, saying they wanted to bid her good-bye in person. At that meeting, they slipped a drug into her drink, making her feel faint. They then rushed her to the airport, intending to board a plane for Romania and then proceed to England. The doctor was waiting for them at the airport, and just before they reached passport control, he injected the daughter with another drug.

But after they were already on the plane, police boarded and removed her, having been alerted by her relatives in Bnei Brak. When the girl failed to return home on time, they feared that her parents had kidnapped her and promptly called the police.

The parents were indicted, but the doctor fled to Moscow. Following negotiations via his lawyer, however, he agreed to return to Israel yesterday to stand trial.

The police said they did not promise him anything in exchange for his agreement to return.

The doctor, 49, was questioned by the police yesterday and is reportedly cooperating with the investigation. He confirmed having given the girl the shot, but said he had done so on the understanding that she wanted it because she had trouble flying.

He also denied having been paid for his services. But police say other evidence indicates that he did take money. He will be brought to court for a remand hearing today.

The arrest of such a senior physician on suspicions of abetting an attempted kidnapping sent shock waves through the medical system yesterday. Doctors said it was particularly shocking to see him on the wrong side of the law because over the last several years, he has been one of the psychiatrists who regularly provided medical opinions to the courts in various cases.

The doctor allegedly agreed to see the daughter as a private patient at the request of the parents, who claimed she had a psychiatric problem. While the investigation is focused primarily on the attempted kidnapping, police are also looking into suspicions that he treated the daughter in the hospital's electroconvulsive therapy (ECT ) room. That would be illegal in and of itself, since the law forbids doctors to see private patients at government hospitals.

Police have already raided the ECT room in search of evidence.

Though the physician has been abroad since the kidnapping occurred over two months ago, the hospital has yet to appoint a replacement for him. The Health Ministry will soon begin considering what, if any, measures to take against him, including the possibility of putting someone else in charge of his department.