Shalom Shtarkes was sentenced in Jerusalem District Court today to three years’ imprisonment for kidnaping his nephew, Yossele Schumacher, and to two years for perjury in connection with the case. The sentences, which will run concurrently, will be reckoned from August 1961, when Shtarkes was first jailed in London on an extradition request by the Israeli Government. The sentences are subject to appeal.
The sentences were handed down by the three-man court which included Binyamin Halevi, president of the Jerusalem District Court; and District Court Justices Aaron Eden and Moshe Cohen.
Yossele, whose disappearance for two years stirred a search for him on three continents, was finally found by United States Secret Service men in the home of a Brooklyn rabbi last summer. Shtarkes, who went to England after Yossele disappeared, was extradited by Israel after lengthy legal proceedings during which he remained in a London prison.
The court’s Judgment, which took 90 minutes to read, found that there was no doubt that it was the accused who brought Yossele to the isolated settlement of Kommemiut to hide him from his parents. Although other prosecution witnesses failed to identify Shtarkes as the one who took the boy to the settlement, the judgment found that Yossele, now almost 11 years old, was clever for his age and that his clear statement that it was his uncle Shalom, the accused, who took him, was reliable.
COURT HOLDS SHTARKES CLEARLY GUILTY OF CHILD STEALING
By detaining the minor and depriving the parents of the possession of their child, the court held, Shtarkes was clearly guilty of child-stealing and it did not matter that Yossele cooperated. Shtarkes had exploited the boy’s faith and, by using deceit, had terrorized him into believing that his parents planned to return him to Russia where he would become a “goy, ” the judgment stated.
The court rejected as unproven the argument that Yossele’s parents planned to return him to Russia and stated that the only evidence submitted on this point was that the boy’s father, Alter Schumacher, had urged his wife to agree to his going back, but this was at an early stage of their immigration and certainly not after they had found employment, set up a home in Holon and had repeatedly asked for the boy’s return from his grandfather’s custody.
Neither could Shtarkes claim exemption from the charges on the grounds that he was merely an agent of his father, who was custodian of the child and could advance an honest claim that he acted in good faith when he thought he was preventing the child’s return to Russia, the court found.
The Judgment held that the accused clearly perjured himself when he told the Israel High Court he did not know Yossele’s where abouts when the boy’s parents sought a writ for his return. This was a deliberate lie, but for which the search for Yossele on three continents would have been shortened by two years.
After expressing its grave view of the charges, the Court said it considered the petition of Yossele’s parents for leniency, submitted by counsel in a mitigation plea, and all other factors in the public interest.
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