State: 'Child-starver' may have abused her other kids

As trial opens, suspect accuses hospital of inhumane treatment because she's haredi.

child starving mother with guard 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
child starving mother with guard 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
The weight of the three-and-a-half-year-old boy who was allegedly starved by his mother reached 7.1 kilograms, the median weight of a six-month-old baby, the state's representative, attorney Maayan Oren-Rimon, told the Jerusalem District Court on Sunday. "At that point, his life was in serious danger," she told Judge Moshe Ravid. The court convened on Sunday to hear the state's arguments that the mother poses a threat not only to Ch., the child she is accused of starving, but to the other children in her family. Ravid said he would rule on Wednesday on the question of the danger that the woman poses and that the hearing on the terms permitting her to stay out of jail during her trial will begin next Monday. She is due to have a psychiatric assessment later this week. After the woman's arrest, she was remanded in custody for several days and then placed under house arrest, first at the home of a neighbor, and later in her own home in the Mea She'arim quarter, where she was allowed to live with her other four children. After she was indicted on August 4, the Jerusalem District Court rejected the state's request to place her under full house arrest with her children and under strict supervision outside Mea She'arim - a request made to allow social workers and police easier access to the family. However, the court added that it would reconsider the terms of her living conditions during the trial, after the defense had time to study the state's evidence. In the meantime, the state appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which ordered the date of the woman's psychiatric assessment to be advanced and instructed the Jerusalem District Court to consider the state's claim that she was dangerous before it decided on the terms of her living conditions. During Sunday's hearing, Oren-Rimon told the court there were indications that the mother might have abused two of her other four children, Sh., a boy, and Ch., a girl. Regarding Sh., the prosecutor wrote that his mother complained of a high fever that did not go away. She hospitalized him many times, during which the IV was often found disconnected from the boy's body and no proof was found that the child actually had a fever. In the case of Ch., her appendix was removed at her mother's request, even though there was no medical need to do so. So far, the woman's family and lawyers have refused to allow the woman's other children to be questioned, even though the court has ordered this to be done. Oren-Rimon also provided details from the evidence in the case which is the basis for the indictment. According to testimony provided by a nurse, "in one of Ch.'s hospitalizations, she saw the mother holding a tray with all kinds of food. The child stretched out his hand to eat but the mother did not let him. "Finally, she held out a watermelon peel in one hand and a melon peel in the other and he ate them both with gusto because food had been withheld from him for so long." The prosecutor also referred to testimony from Hanna Zurel, a nurse who told Ch. on July 28 that he was going to be transferred from Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center. "'Do you know we are leaving today?' she asked him. And he said, frightened, 'Not home.' She asked him, 'Why not home?' And he answered, 'Because I'm afraid.'" During the hearing, Ch's mother stood up and accused the hospital of mistreating her under conditions "unheard of, except perhaps in the Holocaust and during the Inquisition. "I wasn't given food for two-and-a-half days," she charged. "They took me to harsh interrogations. No other woman in this country has undergone such interrogations. "They did whatever they wanted and did not give me kosher food. They haven't done what they did to me to anyone else in this country, just because I am haredi. "I've seen many criminals and no one was treated like me. My hands and legs were cuffed even though my legs are swollen. They did unheard of things to me, just because I am haredi." The woman's lawyer, Reuven Bar-Haim, argued that the reports of hospital staff about the behavior of his client could not be trusted because they wanted to protect themselves against charges of medical negligence. "As for the symptoms that were found on the child's body, including chafing and burns, these were most likely the side effects of the medicines the doctors had given him, he argued. Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.