Several members of the controversial haredi Orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor have been detained in Trinidad and Tobago, reports the Toronto Star.
A man in Trinidad who identified himself to the Star as a senior immigration official said three adult members of the sect arrived with six children around 5 a.m. on Wednesday. He said they came from Toronto and were en route to Mexico. The official said the group refused to go back to Toronto and was subsequently detained. Sect members hired a lawyer to try and get passage to Guatemala, he added.
“I think they ended up in Trinidad by mistake because they missed their flight to Mexico,” the official was quoted as telling the Star.
News of the detention came on the same day an appeal was to be heard of an order for the removal of 13 Lev Tahor children over allegations of physical and emotional abuse within the sect. Sect members did not show up in court Wednesday.
It is unclear if any of the children subject to the order are among those detained in Trinidad and Tobago, the Star said. But those under the order were strictly prohibited from leaving the region of Chatham-Kent, Ontario, where about 200 Lev Tahor members fled from adjacent Quebec last November.
Julie Lee, the lawyer representing the sect families, refused to comment outside court, saying the case was a child protection matter. The immigration official said sect members were detained in Trinidad because they did not have connecting tickets.