Ultra-Orthodox couple arrested for drugs at Ukraine airport

Ultra-Orthodox couple arrested for drugs at Ukraine airport

Suspects maintain the 2 pounds of marijuana may have been placed in luggage to frame pair over woman’s custody battle

A marijuana plant. (photo credit: AP)
A marijuana plant. (photo credit: AP)

Ukrainian police arrested an Israeli ultra-Orthodox couple at a Kiev airport after finding more than two pounds of marijuana in their luggage.

The website of Ukraine’s border police did not identify the Israelis arrested at Boryspil Airport on Sunday but said they were apprehended in a combined operation by the country’s security service, police and customs.

The Israeli news site Haredi10, which specializes in news from the ultra-Orthodox world, on Thursday suggested the couple may have been framed in connection with the woman’s legal battle for custody over her nine children from her ex-husband. The article did not name the individuals involved, citing privacy considerations.

According to the article, the couple and the ex-husband are members of a “prominent Hasidic group based in central Israel.” It was identified as the Bnei Brak-based Ger Hasidic dynasty, one of Israel’s largest, by Israel Greenhouse, a lecturer on the Haredi world and former member of that community.

The woman separated from her ex-husband in what interviewees described to Haredi10 as “an ugly divorce” that was effectuated recently. While maintaining custody over their children, she got engaged to the person that the couple’s rabbi assigned to the couple as a marriage consultant to prevent divorce — a development which many resented at the woman’s devout Hasidic community and even within her own family.

The marriage consultant was recently invited to a job interview at a Haredi institution in Kiev, the report said, and was joined on the trip by his fiancée while the children stayed with relatives in Israel. They were arrested on their way back based on a tip given to Ukrainian authorities.

The couple reportedly is maintaining that the drugs were planted in their luggage.

According to one of the woman’s neighbors, unidentified men showed up at her Bnei Brak home before word of her arrest got out and emptied it of her belongings, telling the neighbor that “she will be gone for a while.”

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