(February 12, 2020 / JNS) Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin asked his Peruvian counterpart to pardon a young Israeli woman with disabilities who is currently in jail after being arrested and charged six months ago for allegedly attempting to smuggle cocaine from Peru to Israel.
In a letter to President Martin Vizcarra, Rivlin said Hodaya Monsonego, 24, suffers from “medical issues and has been diagnosed with limited cognitive ability” that impairs her judgement, and that it is “reasonable to believe that her unique condition … led her to be involved in the alleged matter unintentionally.”
He pointed out that Monsonego, of the Hof Ashkelon region, does not have a criminal record. He also asked Peruvian authorities to consider Monsonego’s “fragile condition,” as well as the fact that she speaks only Hebrew, making it difficult for her to communicate with her lawyers in Peru.
“In light of these difficult humanitarian circumstances, we are very concerned about the mental and physical welfare of Hodaya, especially in light of her prolonged incarceration and distance from her family,” wrote Rivlin. “Under these unique circumstances, I appeal for your mercy and forgiveness and to intervene personally by granting a pardon to Hodaya Monsonego.”
Monsonego’s family said in a report that aired on Israel’s Channel 12 on Saturday that she was likely exploited by a friend and the friend’s relative, who they claim organized the operation.
Rivlin’s request follows the recent pardon of Naama Issachar, an Israeli-American woman jailed in Russia on drug charges, who returned to Israel after being granted clemency by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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