Woman Charged With Murder in Toddler Son's Drowning in Southern Israel

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The toddler with the accused's husband
The toddler with the accused's husband

Despite being found mentally unfit to stand trial, a woman accused of drowning her 4-year-old son in a bathtub last month has been charged with murder.

According to the indictment, on the evening of February 11 the woman, a Ukrainian national, drowned the boy in the bathroom of the apartment she shared with her husband in the southern Israeli city of Eilat.

“The accused killed the deceased after deciding to do so, in cold blood, without provocation, under circumstances in which she could think and understand the consequences of her actions, and after preparing herself for his death and arranging for a means by which to kill him,” the indictment said.

Under questioning the woman confessed to murder, saying she did it because she feared her son would be taken from her. But on the day of the boy’s death, she and her husband – who is not the boy’s father – took him to a Population and Immigration Authority office to continue the process of registering him as an Israeli citizen, which was proceeding smoothly.

Although a psychiatric evaluation determined that the woman was not responsible for her actions at the time of the murder, the State Prosecutor’s Office said it would seek an additional opinion.

Since the suspect is not an Israeli citizen, if convicted she could serve her sentence in her country of origin.

Prosecutors told the Be’er Sheva District Court that the woman’s confession reinforces the allegation. According to the indictment, the woman re-enacted the drowning for detectives.

The husband told investigators he had left the apartment for 10 minutes while his wife was cooking in the kitchen and the boy was playing in the living room. When he returned, he said, his wife was holding the boy, who was naked, wet and not breathing, and she told him she had drowned her son. The indictment says the suspect held her son under the water for two to three minutes, and the preliminary coroner’s report is consistent with this.

Prosecutors asked the court to order the woman to remain in custody, saying she posed a threat to public safety.

The body of the boy, who arrived in Israel with his mother from Ukraine 10 months ago, is still at the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine, in Tel Aviv, where the autopsy was performed. Last week a judge ruled that the child should be buried in Ukraine, where a man who claims to be his father lives. If that cannot be done soon, however, he should be buried in Israel.

The boy’s stepfather had at first insisted the boy be buried in Eilat, saying he did not believe the man in Ukraine was the boy’s father, because the mother had insisted she did not know who the father was, and the boy’s birth certificate only had the man’s first name and the mother’s last name.

But Justice Ministry officials managed to obtain photos from the boy’s early years in Ukraine, where he is seen with his biological father; in some of the pictures the mother also appears.

The stepfather was also shown pictures that the mother had sent the Ukrainian man over the past few months, demonstrating that she had kept in touch with him without her husband’s knowledge. It also emerged that omitting the father’s last name on a birth certificate is in keeping with birth registration policy in Ukraine when the parents are not married and they decide the child should take the mother’s last name.

The court ruling says the stepfather agreed to allow the boy to be buried in Ukraine, “Unless the mother expressly demands that he be buried in Israel, and if that’s the case, he agrees to deal with the arrangements.”

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