May 22, 2022

seven people indicted for “aggravated violence”

Seven members of an ultra-Orthodox community, manager of a Talmudic school in Bussières, 60 km from Paris, were indicted for “aggravated violence”, suspected of ill-treatment of minor students, announced on Saturday February 5, the Meaux parquet floor.

They were indicted on Friday evening – and placed under judicial control – in particular for “intentional violence against vulnerable people”, “abuse of the vulnerability of a person placed in a situation of psychological subjection” or even “accommodation conditions contrary to dignity “.

Located since 1948 in Bussières, a village of 500 inhabitants in Seine-et-Marne, the yeshiva Beth Yossef, renowned for its strict methods, welcomed around sixty students “described as being difficult children”, said Friday the prosecutor of Meaux, Laureline Peyreffite. Aged 13 to 18, the students were mostly Israeli but also of American, Belgian, Romanian or Irish nationality, “not declared in school”, according to the magistrate.

Read also Suspicions of abuse in a Talmudic school: those responsible arrested, around forty minors taken care of

“Slaps and kicks”

Among those indicted are a 75-year-old rabbi – a spiritual figure in the yeshiva – as well as the 48-year-old director of the establishment, a 32-year-old referent and other members of the management and of the teaching team. They “generally denied the facts even if some were able to describe acts like slaps and blows”, the prosecutor explained to the press on Friday.

Some pupils “were able to confirm, without always criticizing them, acts of physical and psychological violence”, she added. In their hearings, students said they had been beaten and slapped by a “super-supervisor” and D’” a reference “. The latter, himself a former student of the yeshiva, who arrived from Israel at the age of 16, has since resided in the area where he married and founded his family. He is accused of having struck the children, in particular in the event of an attempt to run away. “He disputes the facts with which he is accused”, reacted to Agence France-Presse (AFP) his lawyer, Me Andrea Assor.

The prosecutor explained on Friday that the students were, “according to their declarations, totally isolated from the outside world except for telephone contact with their parents under authorization” and “their passport was confiscated”. They lived “in unsanitary housing conditions”, housed in the dilapidated former sanatorium of the Séricourt estate.

“Assisted witnesses” for the head of sequestration

While the prosecution had requested the indictment for “organized kidnapping”, the seven people were placed under the status of “assisted witness” for this head, said Saturday Mme Peyrefitte. The lawyers of the establishment, Philippe Ohayon and Dan Mimran, were pleased that the criminal qualification of sequestration did not “not accepted”. That “invalidates the thesis of sectarian aberrations and removes all credibility from the quasi-military operation carried out against this yeshiva”, said M.e Ohayon.

On Monday, seventeen members of the community had been taken into custody during an operation which mobilized 130 gendarmes. The yeshiva investigation follows the runaway of an American student in July 2020, who had found refuge at the United States Embassy in Paris.

Following him, two other students had escaped. The establishment has, among other things, been the subject of “various worrying reports including one from Miviludes” (Interministerial mission of vigilance and fight against sectarian aberrations), according to the prosecutor. “The delay between the report and the arrest leads us to wonder about the extreme urgency described by the prosecutor in his press release. If it’s so urgent, we don’t wait seven months, it’s unthinkable”, scolded Me Benouaiche, lawyer for the rabbi.

In a testimony collected this week by AFP, Avi Ran recounted having arrived from Israel at the age of 12 to enter this school, in 2002. He spent twelve years there, victim of a ” brainwashing “ from an institution which, for him, was “a cult in every way”, with some “physical blows” administered as “punishments”. Students were handed over to their parents this weekend. The others remain in the care of the department’s child welfare department, in conjunction with the Red Cross.

The World with AFP