Guatemala moves to seize Lev Tahor children

CBC’s the fifth estate has learned that Guatemalan officials are preparing to seize child members of the Lev Tahor sect who fled Canada almost two weeks ago.

Members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect from Canada arrived in Central America on March 4

Police officers in Guatemala escort nine Lev Tahor member to appear before a judge. (Romina Ruiz-Goiriena)

CBC’s the fifth estate has learned that Guatemalan officials are preparing to seize child members of the LevTahor sect who fled Canada almost two weeks ago.

Police investigators went Friday to the hotel where nine members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect are staying.

The three adults and six children were questioned at their hotel in the tourist town of Panajachel, a few hours west of Guatemala City.

Police then escorted the group out of the hotel to appear before a judge, who will determine if the children should be removed from their families and taken to a shelter.

Fled Ontario with pending appeal case

The LevTahor members arrived in the country March 4 after they left their homes in Chatham, Ont., amid a pending judgment in an appeal case.

Another group of six children and three adults also left Canada for Guatemala, but were intercepted in transit in Trinidad and Tobago.

The group, originally from Quebec, appealed an Ontario court’s ruling that demanded 13 children be returned to Quebec and placed in foster care.

Child protection agency officials in Quebec said they were concerned about the children’s health, safety, hygiene and schooling.

Leaders of LevTahor have always denied the allegations of neglect and abuse.