Brazil denies asylum to Israeli suspected of child abuse

By Haaretz Service, Israel/July 14, 2009

Brazilian authorities on Monday ruled that an Israeli fugitive alleged to have sexually molested a number of children will not receive refugee status, the Justice Ministry announced.

Elior Chen is considered the spiritual leader of a Jerusalem sect that was found to have abused young children, two of whom, aged 4 and 5, were hospitalized in March in critical condition.

Chen's wife, Ruth, and their four children traveled to Brazil with him, only to later depart Belgium.

Hoping to pressure Chen's wife to turn him in, Brazilian authorities had removed the children from their mother's custody and placed them with a foster family for two days, after which they were returned to their mother.

An international warrant for Chen's arrest was issued in April.

Chen allegedly ordered his followers to "discipline" children by beating, burning, pushing and shaking them, and tying them up as a way of "correcting" their behavior.

Chen had fled to Canada with one of his disciples after the arrest of a Jerusalem mother, apparently another of his disciples, on suspicion she severely abused her eight children at Chen's bidding. The mother was indicted for allegedly burning her toddlers, making them eat feces and locking them in a suitcase for days at a time, among other charges.

One of her children remains in a vegetative coma.

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