Divorce refuser who headed drug cartel located, arrested

Refuser in Israel grants wife divorce to wife in US through head of Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court.

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Mordechai Sones,

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A divorce refuser who was found to head an international drug cartel was caught by the Agunot Department of the rabbinical courts after a dramatic manhunt.

Last night, shortly before sunset, he granted his wife a divorce, who lives in the United States, through the head of the Rabbinical Court in Tel Aviv, Rabbi Shlomo Stasman.

A woman who is unable to obtain a get is known as a mesorevet get, a woman who is refused a divorce by her husband. Under Jewish law she cannot remarry.

The word agunah, chained woman is often used incorrectly instead, although halakhically, agunah refers to a woman whose husband's whereabouts are unknown, such as a soldier who is missing in action. Much effort is expended by rabbinic courts to find ways to allow agunot to marry. When current Deputy Defense Minister Eli ben Dahan was administrator of the rabbinic courts, he sent teams out of the country to search for husbands who had disappeared without granting a get and managed to lower the number significantly.

N. lives in the United States, having been an agunah for nearly seven years. Her attempts to obtain a get through rabbinical courts abroad have not worked well, despite the fact that she invested a great deal of money and hired first-class lawyers. G., her husband, allegedly began to graze in foreign fields and engage in shady criminal business.

Before they separated, the husband allegedly already had a new partner, and at a later stage they had two children. After N. had despaired of the proceedings in the rabbinical and secular courts in the United States, and when she learned that her husband had gone to visit Israel, the woman's lawyer opened a divorce file through the rabbinical court in Tel Aviv and was heard before the presiding judge, Rabbi Shlomo Stasman. The rabbi assigned the task of locating the husband to the Agunot Department headed by Rabbi Eliyahu Maimon, and the file went for action to one of the department's private investigators.

In the early stages of the investigation it was revealed that the man heads an international drug cartel that imports and sells drugs all over the world, beyond being a drug habitué himself. A search of his business led to dozens of names of consumers and drug dealers with whom he is in regular contact.

After a period of ten days, the man was located in a town in the north and after the private investigators verified his identity, a patrol car was called. Police arrived and saw the man, but the man slipped away, fled to one of the stairwells, and entered one of the apartments. After further searches and checking the building, the police left the area empty-handed.

From that moment, Rabbi Maimon and the Agunot Department began operating in various ways to locate the elusive husband, including the use of electronic means, intelligence gathering, and arresting those suspected of assisting the husband, while one of them was issued a prison order and at the time of his arrest, police found a large quantity of illicit drugs in his possession.

During the friend's interrogation, it was revealed that he was an active partner in the exploits of the husband and even directly and indirectly assisted him to escape arrest - including providing a forged passport and other means he had brought with him from abroad, which were to be used in smuggling him outside Israel's borders. The arrest of the friend provided a great deal of intelligence to the Agunot Department and helped to locate the husband, whose identification was complicated because he was a type that lived in the outdoors and was known as a loner who frequented the northern wadis. Locating him became especially complicated, because the husband realized police were after him and expended great effort to escape the law.

After a long series of activities that included ambushes, stake-outs, and other arrests, the husband was finally arrested in the morning. For logistical reasons a hearing was held before Rabbi Shlomo Stessman in Jerusalem, and began yesterday at the unusual hour of 4 PM.

Through great efforts, Rabbi Stasman brought the parties to agreements, and after countless crises and renouncing the agreements, the parties finally settled on the verbiage. A few minutes before sunset, the divorce was delivered from the husband to the receiving emissary, the Deputy Director of the Agunot Department, Rabbi Asher Ehrentroy, since the woman was abroad.

Thanks to cooperation between the Israel Police and the rabbinical courts, the helper who was arrested was transferred to the Israel Police and the court extended his remand to continue the investigation. The husband himself left Israel shortly after the divorce was granted.

Rabbi Shimon Yaakobi, Director of the Rabbinical Courts, praised the successful and complex activities of the Agunot Department and said, "I call upon the refusers to turn themselves in and to release not only your spouses but also yourselves. I would like to thank the Israeli Police for their cooperation."