Dozens of police and Prison Service officers searched the streets of downtown Jerusalem on Wednesday for a man imprisoned for six years for refusing to divorce his wife who escaped from custody by leaping from a bathroom window.
Shai Cohen, 40, was brought to the capital to appear before the rabbinical court over divorce proceedings. During the hearing, he asked his warders to be allowed go to the bathroom, then made a break for freedom by jumping from the bathroom window, on the second floor.
Cohen was not handcuffed for medical reasons, and was not shackled on his ankles because he refused to enter the court under those circumstances.
Officials suspect the fugitive had an accomplice waiting for him outside as he had no money or phone and he left one of his shoes at the scene of his escape, Ynet said. Police on Wednesday night assessed that he was hiding somewhere in the West Bank settlement of Beit El.
Cohen’s court appearance was scheduled to formally end his marriage. He had separated from his wife 12 years ago.
Under Israeli law, divorce procedures are handled by the rabbinical courts and a divorce can only be completed with the explicit agreement of the husband. If a husband refuses to grant his wife a divorce then rabbinical courts can attempt to coerce him into changing his mind by imposing various punishments, including imprisonment.
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