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15 Sep, 2008 21:44

Russian granny's prison term halved in Israel

An Israeli court has ruled to reduce the jail term for a Russian-born woman imprisoned for helping her daughter take her child out of the country. 69-year-old Isabella Belfer will now spend three years behind bars instead of six. She is the oldest person

Belfer's daughter, Marina, took her daughter to Moscow in 2001 without the permission of the girl’s Israeli father. The grandmother claimed, both she and Marina were being threatened by him.

Four years on, Isabella returned to take care of her own ailing mother and was arrested on a kidnapping charge, brought by her former son-in-law.

In February 2008, Belfer was convicted.

Isabella has already spent six months behind bars.

She spends her days thinking of her loved ones in Russia.

“My dear Liliya, I kiss the toy you've sent me every day. I love you very much. I know I will see you again. I really hope that I will be rescued and then I’ll join you,” is her message to her granddaughter.

Now she can only talk to her relatives on the phone.

“I'm the first on the list to phone, my time is from 07:00 pm to 07:15 pm. Everyone is given 15 minutes to talk. I asked to be the first on the list as my mother goes to bed after 7pm,” Isabella says.

Isabella has books to read and is able to watch TV. But still, prison life is harsh for her.

“Of course it’s difficult here. This is jail! Sometimes I say something like I want to go to bed. But I'm told the night checkup hasn’t taken place yet, and that I mustn't forget where I am,” Belfer says.

Her mother who is almost one hundred years old has been shocked by the handling of the case.

“The Israeli court was so cruel and inhuman to the innocent old lady, how could they put her in prison. As to me, I'm not dead yet, but I am quite old. And I really need my daughter’s help,” Isabella’s mother says.

Isabella Belfer's lawyer is drawing up an appeal for pardon to Israel's President Shimon Peres, but for the time being, she has to stay behind bars.