'Starving mother' trial begins

Mother accused of starvi

The trial of the mother accused of starving her three-year-old son officially began in Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday with the reading of the indictment against her. The presiding judge, Joseph Shapira, read out the first paragraph of the indictment to the accused, who sat in the defendant's dock along with her mother. When Shapira asked her whether she understood the charges, she did not reply. Her mother said she was ill and could not speak. Eventually, the woman's lawyer told the court her client had understood. One of her lawyers, Shahar Eldar, asked the court for time to study the investigation material, explaining that he had just joined the defense team earlier that day. He jousted with prosecution attorney Tal Weissman, who asked the court to set an early date for the defense response and the subsequent hearing of testimony. The state has listed 160 prosecution witnesses in its indictment. Shapira set the date for November 16. Meanwhile, in another development, Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger overruled the Jerusalem District Court and determined that the mother and four of her children could remain in their home in the Mea Shearim neighborhood during the trial. Danziger wrote that forcing her to move "would uproot the children from their familiar surroundings and cause them another shock at a difficult time for them. Above all else, they need the social and educational environment they are familiar with in order to maintain their fundamental stability." At the same time, the court rejected the state's appeal to separate the mother from her four children on the grounds that she posed a threat to them. Danziger wrote that according to the terms of the house arrest that the mother has been placed under, her children will be examined by a doctor every two days. He said that was sufficient to guarantee their well-being. He also dropped the condition that a nurse be on duty to keep an eye on the mother and that she have a direct connection with welfare authorities. As it was, said Danziger, there will be people in the house all the time to make sure that the mother adheres to the terms of her custody.