Four men believed to be involved in the abduction of Rabbi Nir Ben-Artzi, of the Tlamim community in southern Israel, were indicted Tuesday for abduction, extortion and fraud.
The State believes the four plotted the kidnapping in an attempt to extort the rabbi and embezzle funds donated to "Talmei Geula," a non-profit organization of which he is the director of.
- 5 arrested on suspicion of holding rabbi captive
- Rabbi Ben-Artzi's abductors suspected of massive fraud
The four suspects – Shmuel Shukron, Zvi Weizmann, Shimon Katorza and Micha Petito – held various administrative positions with the NPO. According to the indictment, they first began plotting the rabbi's removal as its director in 2005, in order to gain direct access to the donation funds.
The indictment also details how – once he refused to embezzle funds – Rabbi Ben-Artzi was abducted and held in Tiberias. His abductors reportedly moved around to avoid detection. To that end, he was also allowed to contact his family and was instructed to tell them he had imposed "exile" on himself as a "tikun" and a "personal sacrifice for Israel."
According to the case file assaulted him physically and threatened to destroy his reputation in the religious community by implicating him in a sex scandal.
The charged against the four were filed with the Beersheva Magistrates' Court.
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