Russian grandma sent to prison for kidnapping

A 69-year-old Russian-Israeli grandmother has been sent to prison for six years by a court in Israel after it ruled she illegally helped her daughter take her child out of the country. The case sets a precedent in Israel, where family members now can be h

Isabella Belfer will be spending her seventieth birthday behind bars.

The Russian-born grandmother was found guilty of helping her daughter Marina to kidnap her grandchild and take her to Moscow.

Marina, Isabella Belfer's daughter
Marina, Isabella Belfer's daughter

The Tel Aviv District Court sentenced her to six years in prison.

“My life is crashing. I think that the court decision was completely unfair. It looks more like revenge from this psychopath, my former son-in-law, who made 27 charges against me. A normal person wouldn’t behave like that,” Isabella said.

Isabella’s daughter, Marina moved to Israel, where she got married and had a child.

However, her marriage didn't last. And six years ago she moved back to Russia, taking her daughter, first grader Lilach, with her.

Lilach’s father, Yaron Rotem hasn’t seen her since.

“I asked the prosecution to delay the judgement because I didn’t want Lilach’s grandmother to go to jail. I don’t want it. There’s a small window, a narrow window of one month,” he said.

The ‘window’ Yaron is hoping for is that his ex-wife Marina will return to Israel with their daughter.

If she does so within the next month, there’s a possibility of a deal being struck that could prevent her mother, Isabella, from going to prison. 

Yaron Rotem, Isabella's former son-in-law
Yaron Rotem, Isabella's former son-in-law

“I only hope that justice will prevail. How can a mother be held accountable for her daughter’s actions if the daughter’s guilt has not been proven? No-one has proved that I took the child out of the country illegally. The court has not taken that decision. I am not guilty. They’ve put the blame on my mother for a crime that she didn't commit,” Marina said.  

The Israeli court wasn’t swayed by the fact that Isabella’s had a heart operation and looks after her 94-year-old mother.

It’s the first time in Israel that a person in her seventies will be sent to jail for such a long time.

Isabella will be going to jail in one month, unless the Supreme Court accepts her appeal.