The founder of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor has a more than colourful past.
Critics call Shlomo Helbrans a fraud who brainwashes his followers.
In 1994, he was convicted of kidnapping a teenage boy in Brooklyn, NY. He served two years in prison and was deported to Israel in 2000.
In 2003, he arrived in Canada as a refugee.
Helbrans claimed asylum because he was being persecuted for his religious beliefs: his sect denies the legitimacy of the Jewish state.
Longtime Lev Tahor critic David Ouellette of the Montreal-based Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs says he still doesn't understand how he got into Canada in the first place.
"It's really quite formidable that a Canadian court would accept this as a basis to grant an Israeli national refugee status in Canada," he says.
Ouellette says there are many ultra-Orthodox sects in Israel that reject the country's right to existbut they are rarely if ever persecuted.
Most Lev Tahor members, Ouellette says, are either from Israel or the U.S.
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