A Jewish Father of Small Children Suspected of Smuggling Several Tortoises Detained in Madagascar for Many Weeks Among Hundreds of Cruel Criminals, Dangerous Inmates, and Antisemitic: “I Can’t Survive This” | Listen to His Heartbreaking Pleas…
Mr. R’, a resident of Bnei Brak, aged 39, was arrested over a month and a half ago with a few tortoises found in his hand luggage. Since his arrest, he has been transferred between four detention centers and is now held in the most ruthless prison known in Africa, under harsh conditions, and in immediate danger to his life at every moment. In a conversation with his lawyer, he tearfully stated, “This isn’t normal; they beat me, took my clothes, and I have nothing to eat. Save me.” His trial is set to commence in a few days, and if convicted, he may face up to 10 years in prison for an unjust accusation!
Since the Israeli citizen, Mr. R’, from Bnei Brak, was arrested over a month and a half ago at the international airport in Madagascar for smuggling tortoises, he has been transferred four times between detention centers – yet he remains detained in the country. In a phone conversation with his attorney, Mordechai Tzivin, a few days ago, Mr. R’ sobbed, “Save me, this isn’t normal; what’s happening here isn’t right. I’m constantly in fear, surrounded by hundreds of dangerous inmates, among them Muslim antisemites, and they beat me! They took my clothes! I have nothing to eat! I can’t survive this!”
Mr. R’ continued to recount his ordeal in detention: “I sleep here with hundreds of people in one room; each person has 30 centimeters to sleep. Everyone here can harm me at any moment, and the guards turn a blind eye and show no interest. Last week, someone tried to touch me. I just wanted to say something gently to him, and he punched me twice. At night, I think to myself, ‘When will morning come?'” He added, “I gave my food to a guard here in exchange for bringing my tefillin. I left them for a few minutes, and then another inmate approached and asked for money. When I refused, he hit me in the eye and took my tefillin.”
Smuggling tortoises is considered a very serious offense in Madagascar, and the lawsuit seeks to impose no less than 10 years of imprisonment and substantial monetary fines amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars on Mr. R” The tortoises were discovered in Mr. R’s hand luggage by local customs officials. After the luggage went through an X-ray scan, and without Mr. R’ being aware that it was prohibited, since all he intended to do was to bring them for his young children after seeing these tortoises being sold in the market for traditional soup by locals.
Customs officials identified something suspicious, and when they opened the luggage, to their astonishment, they found the tortoises. Mr. R’ tried to explain to them that he is a plumber by professionand not a smuggler , and he wasn’t even aware that it’s forbidden to take tortoises out of Madagascar. He also didn’t try to hide them. He believed that as a non-local, he could take them for his children to see, and therefore he didn’t hide them and carried them in his hand luggage, leaving them in a compartment with air holes along with some food and an open lid. Nevertheless, their explanation was ignored, and they treated him with anti-Semitic and cruel behavior, treating him worse than murderers and serious criminals he was surrounded by. He lives in constant fear and real danger for his life!
His trial is scheduled to start in a few days. In the meantime, he’s been in detention for several weeks and transferred as aforementioned between different detention centers – and now he’s located in the worst place, as mentioned.
In order to fund his legal defense and related expenses, an effort is being made to raise around half a million dollars for Mr. R’ through a crowd-funding campaign. Recordings of his voice have been included in this campaign, where he describes his difficult situation in prison. Prominent rabbis, jurists, and public figures from all denominations, communities, and sectors are on the list of endorsers urging for donations and assistance for Mr. R’.
Attorney Mordechai Tzivin, who represents Mr. R’, conveyed: “An ordinary civilian, without any previous criminal record. He wasn’t aware of the prohibition to take tortoises out of Madagascar, and he didn’t even try to hide them. It’s reasonable to assume that ‘the reasonable man,’ most certainly not a local, wouldn’t have thought it’s an offense.”
Tzivin added, “His condition in prison, considered one of the worst in the world, is physically and mentally harsher than imaginable. I expect that the authorities in Madagascar will soon come to the conclusion that Mr. R’ is innocent, thus ending the torment he is currently enduring.” A crowd-funding campaign has been launched by his family in an effort to aid and rescue him as much as possible.