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28 Feb, 2008 21:30

Russian grandma begins six-year term for kidnap

An Israeli prison has become home to its oldest inmate. A Russian grandmother has begun serving her sentence for helping kidnap her granddaughter. Sixty-nine-year-old Isabella Belfer was given a six-year term for helping her daughter Marina smuggle her ch

Isabella Belfer now faces at least two months in prison, as she waits for her appeal against the sentence to be considered by Israel's Supreme Court.
Six years may not be a life sentence, but Isabella fears that for her, it could mean just that. She's become the oldest person in Israel's history to be put in jail.

In 2001, Isabella, helped her daughter Marina take six-year-old Lilach out of Israel, and the three moved to Moscow. When she returned to the country in 2006, Isabella was located by the girl's father – Yaron Rotem – who, upon not being able to find Marina or Lilach, charged the grandmother with illegally taking his daughter away from him.

Yaron Rotem claims he never wanted to see Isabella behind bars, but had hoped the court proceedings would reunite him with his daughter. He also says he doesn't want to take the child but wants to share custody of Lilach.

Meantime, Marina decided to stay in Moscow, where she says her daughter is safer. She claims Yaron had abused her during their two-year marriage.

Speaking to Russia Today when she learned of her mother's sentencing, Marina said it was unfair to have to choose between her daughter and her mother.

“I hope justice will prevail. How can a mother be held responsible for her daughter's actions? Especially when the daughter's guilt hasn't been proven? No one has yet convicted me of illegally taking my daughter,” she said.