Israeli cult leader Goel Ratzon jailed for 30 years

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Goel Ratzon sits in Tel Aviv District CourtImage source, AP
Image caption,
Goel Ratzon was living with 21 women when he was arrested in 2010

A polygamist cult leader has been sentenced to 30 years in prison by an Israeli court for sexually abusing his wives and daughters.

Goel Ratzon, 64, had been convicted of a number of sexual offences including rape, indecent assault and incest.

Israeli media reported that Ratzon had 21 "wives" who bore him more than 30 children.

Ratzon had denied the charges, stating that the women lived with him voluntarily.

Supernatural threats

The ruling from the Tel Aviv District Court comes four years after Ratzon was arrested in a high profile police operation.

The investigation revealed that Ratzon kept various homes throughout the city of Tel Aviv where women and children lived in "horrible conditions".

Israeli media said that after joining the communal houses the women were forced to break off all ties with their families and friends.

The court was told that Ratzon also threatened to harm the women and children if they did not obey him.

Image source, AP
Image caption,
Ratzon threatened to harm his wives and children if they did not obey him

The self-proclaimed healer threatened to "make sure you and your children are stricken with serious illnesses", according to a witness quoted in court.

The court was told that the complete control Ratzon had over his wives and children included forcing them to tattoo his name and sometimes his portrait on their bodies.

His children were also named after variations of his first name which means "saviour" in Hebrew.

Following the sentencing, one of Ratzon's ex-partners, identified only as Maayan, told Israeli media: "The only source of happiness is that he would never return to society."

Ratzon was also convicted of defrauding his wives out of their money.