'Modesty patrol' mercenary gets 4 years

But State Attorney's Office doesn't charge suspected ringleader in J'lem case due to lack of evidence.

Haredim riot in Mea Shearim 248.8 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Haredim riot in Mea Shearim 248.8
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A 29-year-old Israeli man connected with Jerusalem's haredi "modesty squad" has been sentenced to four years in prison for the brutal gang assault of a woman in her apartment last year. Due to a lack of evidence, however, the group's supposed ringleader and other alleged cell members were never charged in the case, the Justice Ministry said Monday. The modesty patrol, an all-male vigilante group which has been active in the city's Mea She'arim and Geula neighborhoods, has been linked to numerous acts of violence over the years in their attempts to ensure the city's haredi residents conduct themselves in accordance with the conventions of their ultra-observant lifestyle. Elhanan Buzaglo was the only suspect to be indicted for the June 2008 attack on a divorced woman who had previously led a haredi lifestyle. The woman's name has not been made public because of concern over her safety. The woman was assaulted in her home in the city's Ma'alot Dafna neighborhood by a group of five men armed with a bat and tear gas. "The defendant and the others shoved the complainant, dropped her to the floor, beat her, slammed her head against the floor and kicked [her] all over her body," the indictment recounts. "The defendant or one of the others sat on her head in a bid to prevent her from seeing what was going on and to prevent her from resisting," the charge sheet continued. Before the men left, they reportedly told the woman she must leave her apartment in the predominantly haredi neighborhood, or that night's attack would "only be the beginning," and that if she remained she would be murdered. After the incident the woman received threatening phone calls and letters, and as a result, decided shortly thereafter to move out of her apartment even though her lease was not up for another year. The woman, who had given up the haredi lifestyle after getting divorced, was suspected by members of the modesty squad of having sexual relationships with other men. Buzaglo, who received $2,000 for taking part in the attack, was arrested last year after his fingerprints were found in the plaintiff's apartment. "The punishment must reflect the abhorrence of his acts [and] compensate for the evil harm to the body and spirit of the plaintiff, and deter him and others like him," Judge Noam Solberg of the Jerusalem District Court wrote in his sentencing. Buzaglo, who reached a plea bargain, has expressed remorse for his actions. A second suspect, who was also arrested and questioned in the case last year, was subsequently released and never indicted. The man, Binyamin Meirovitch, who was suspected of being one of the modesty squad's leaders and responsible for the illicit organization's operations, was never charged due to lack of evidence, a Justice Ministry spokeswoman said Monday. Jerusalem police spokesman Asi Aharoni said Monday that police had transferred all the material they had on the suspect to the State Attorney's Office and that no more arrests were expected in the case, which has been closed. The other suspects in the case were never caught.