The Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday held a sentencing hearing in the "Taliban mom" abuse case, in which a Beit Shemesh mother of 12 was convicted of severely abusing six of her children.
The woman was convicted of multiple counts of aggravated assault and abuse of a minor. Her husband was convicted of abuse and failure to report abuse to the authorities.
The court was surprised to see several of the abused children rise to their mother's defense.
"Our mother is a sick woman, suffering from a mental disorder, which was responsible for her actions," their statement to the court said. "She needs psychiatric treatment and rehabilitation, not a prison sentence."
Eleven of the woman's 12 children supported the plea for leniency, with the exception of the child who was that primary complainant in the case.
The 11 told Ynet that they missed their mother, and longed for the day they would all be reunited.
"I'm desperately seeking the court's (mercy) in hopes that it would spare me and my brothers any further anguish," H., one of the woman's daughters wrote in a letter to the court.
"My brothers and I have had an unbearably difficult time dealing with the fact that we had to testify against our parents. I am tormented by the fact that they might be sentenced to jail because of us," said her letter.
She went on to describe the family's distress over the fact that "our suffering has become public domain," naming several television skits which followed the highly publicized case.
The children in court (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The court, asked the daughter, must take into account that once the children realized their mother's behavior derived from a mental illness, they forgave her wholeheartedly.
Attorney Zari Hazan, who represents the children, told Ynet that they were "united in the notion that the family must be rehabilitated, which is why they are asking for the court's mercy."
The woman's attorney added that once the court witnessed the family's unison in the matter, "and understood the true complexities of the case, it would surely find the proper sentence."
Attorney Yair Nehorai, for the father, said that "all of the children except one arrived here today to ask the court show leniency to their parents. They believe that they too will suffer from any punishment given to the parents, especially the father – should he be incarcerated, the younger children would be devastated."
Nevertheless, Jerusalem Prosecution Attorney Dan Bahat is expected to ask the court for a lengthy sentence.