French open probe into Rose's disappearance

While she apparently died in Israel, the roots of Rose's tragedy may lie in France.

police search for rose 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
police search for rose 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The Versailles Public Prosecutor's Office on Wednesday asked the Central Office for the Reduction of Violence, a branch of the French police, to investigate Rose Pizem's disappearance and alleged murder in Israel. Versailles State Prosecutor Michel Desplan said this would not constitute a parallel investigation to the Israeli one, and that the French legal system would cooperate with the Israelis should such a request be made. Rose spent more than three-and-a-half years of her four- plus years of life in France, from her birth on October 3, 2003, to December 28, 2004, when her parents left for Israel, and then again from February 2005 to December 2007. While she apparently died in Israel, the roots of Rose's tragedy may lie in France. Isabelle Renault, Rose's maternal grandmother, said she "informed the French authorities last June of Rose's disappearance," and both grandmothers registered complaints with their local police stations regarding the "strange disappearance" of their granddaughter, the Public Prosecutor's Office confirmed. Elysabeth Pizem, Rose's paternal grandmother, granted the French daily Le Parisien an interview published on Thursday that cast new light on Rose's life in both countries. She said she last spoke with Rose in January, just a few weeks after the girl returned to Israel. "She answered my questions mechanically, as if someone was standing behind her, telling her what to say," Elysabeth said. She said Rose's mother, Marie-Charlotte, seemed to have been avoiding her calls, and eventually stopped answering them altogether. That's when both grandmothers started to fear for Rose's life and took action. In Israel, they sent a letter to the French Embassy, and in France they filed a missing-persons report with the police. Both feared Rose's fate had taken a turn for the worse, beginning the day Rose and her father Benjamin came back to France without Marie-Charlotte, who had become romantically involved with her own stepfather, Ronnie Ron. Rose now lived with her father, his girlfriend and their infant child. It wasn't until the end of April 2007 that Rose's school noticed, twice, indications of abuse in Rose's behavior and evidence of violence on her body (certified by a physician) and alerted the State Prosecutor's Office. Rose had already been hospitalized for a month-and-a-half. Her grandmother Isabelle said she found bruises all over Rose's back and was horrified when the little girl told her: "They have hurt me!" Even though there was insufficient evidence to charge her father, Benjamin, with abusing her, the state prosecutor removed the child from his care and placed her in an institution for a seven-month period, from April 26 to the end of November. Rose's stay there came to an end when Marie-Charlotte returned to France to divorce Benjamin and was awarded custody of Rose during the proceeding. When Rose was returned to her mother, she didn't recognize her and couldn't relate to anyone around her, as they were speaking in a language, Hebrew, that she didn't understand. Her emotional condition deteriorated, and soon people couldn't handle Rose's symptoms of abuse - slamming her head into walls, defecating in her pants and barely speaking. When the police finally came to their home to arrest Marie-Charlotte and Ronnie, they only found a few pieces of Rose's clothing. Rose apparently didn't have a room of her own or even a bed.