TEL AVIV - The daughter, son and wife of Israel's Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar were arrested Thursday on suspicions of kidnapping a religious youth who had dated the rabbi's daughter.
A gag order previously placed on the affair was lifted on Friday afternoon.
Rabbi Amar, who is currently in Thailand, has not yet been questioned by the police and it is unclear whether he was directly involved in the incident. He is scheduled to return to Israel on Tuesday.
However, the rabbi can only be questioned with approval by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.
Police suspect Amar's wife Mazal was also involved in the kidnapping.
The rabbi's 18-year-old daughter, Ayala, met the 17-year-old ultra-Orthodox youngster three months ago through an Internet chat.
However, the Amar family did not approve of the relationship.
The rabbi's son Meir Amar, who has been leading a secular life for the past 20 year's and has a criminal record, is the prime suspect in the investigation.
After failed attempts to convince the couple to end their relationship, Amar contacted two acquaintances, brothers Ahmed and Abdullah Sawalma from the Israeli Arab town of Kalansua, and together they planned the kidnapping.
'Like a 'Clockwork Orange' scene'
According to police officials, the rabbi’s daughter coaxed the youngster into meeting her at a street in the religious town of Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv, where he was pushed into a car and kidnapped at knifepoint by the rabbi’s son.
The officials said the youth was beaten and threatened during the drive to an apartment in Kalansua.
“When they took him up to the apartment I stayed in the car the whole time, and did not see what they were doing to him,” the rabbi’s daughter said during questioning.
Police suspect the youngster was beaten for four hours, as if from a “Clockwork Orange “ scene, unaware that his kidnapper was the brother of his girlfriend.
The youth was taken to Jerusalem the following morning where his kidnappers continued to beat him in the rabbi’s home.
Police are investigating whether the rabbi and his wife, who were sleeping at the time, were aware of the abuse.
Wife, daughter under house arrest
The Tel Aviv Magistrates Court extended the remand of Meir Amar Friday by five days after he admitted to the kidnapping.
He claimed he wanted to “reeducate” his sister and her suitor, as the ultra-Orthodox are not permitted to meet prior to their wedding.
In addition, the court ordered the rabbi’s wife and daughter be placed under house arrest for five days.
Tel Aviv Chief Superintendent Alon Grossman told Ynet his department received a message from the hospital that a youngster had been kidnapped and badly beaten.
"We began a secret investigation, gathered testimony from the plaintiff and his father......and we are continuing to investigate," he said. "At this stage we are examining where each member of the (rabbi's) family were during the time he was abused in the Jerusalem apartment, and what each of their roles were, if any, in the affair."
'He is considrered a step-son'
However, Mazal Amar's lawyer Benny Katz, claimed the rabbi’s wife has no connection to the incident, and if proven otherwise he said, her connection is marginal.
In addition, Katz said the rabbi’s son has not belonged to the family for years.
“The man chose his own direction in life,” he said. “He doesn’t meet with the family and can even be considered a step-son…he did these actions on his own, one must not connect them to the family.”
Meanwhile, Ayala Amar’s lawyer Sharon Keinan said she was forced to take part in the incident.
“We are talking about an 18-year-old girl that has never been tied to criminal acts and did not understand what was happening," he said. "Therefore there is no reason for her to be detained.”
- Ilan Marciano contributed to the report