Police arrest alleged crime boss for kidnapping yeshiva student

Police arrest alleged crime boss for kidnapping yeshiva student

Charlie Abutbul, along with a rabbi and several others, accused of trying to extort a confession about a robbery

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Illustrative photo (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Charlie Abutbul, the alleged head of a notorious Netanya-based crime family, was arrested on Tuesday along with his wife and several others on suspicion that they kidnapped a yeshiva student and beat him to obtain a confession about a robbery.

Police conducted a manhunt for Abutbul for several days. Details of the events, which were previously subject to a gag order, remained cloudy on Wednesday morning.

According to police reports published in the Israeli press, the incident began several weeks ago when the head rabbi of a yeshiva in northern Israel reportedly discovered that some NIS 900,000 in cash had been stolen from his home. The rabbi, who was not named in media reports, suspected a yeshiva student from Jerusalem was the culprit, but the student denied the accusation. The rabbi then reportedly appealed to Abutbul for help in extracting a confession from the student.

Five men arrived at the yeshiva in a jeep, forced the student into the vehicle, and took him to the basement of an apartment building somewhere in Netanya, Abutbul’s hometown. There they allegedly beat the yeshiva student for several hours in an attempt to squeeze information out of him about the robbery, but the student continued to protest his innocence. The student, who suffered a broken nose and other injuries, was eventually able to escape the basement and contact police.

Officers from the National Unit for International and Serious Crime Investigation raided Abutbul’s home and arrested his wife Sonia and several others, but the crime boss was nowhere to be found. After a manhunt of several days, Abutbul and alleged accomplices were taken into police custody. The yeshiva head was arrested as well.

Police on Wednesday said they intended to seek an extension of remand for those arrested.

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