Lev Tahor ringleader's refugee status is in doubt
The decision to grant refugee status to Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, leader of the controversial ultraorthodox Lev Tahor sect, was based in part on testimony paid for by the sect, a boy involved at the hearing told the CBC’s the fifth estate.So today, the kidnapping victim's thankfully come to his senses, and reveals Helbrans as a master manipulator. Shameful. So too is the refugee board that allowed Helbrans refugee status without doing any background checks, possibly because they considered his political perspective acceptable at the time.
Shai Fima, the boy who was at the centre of Helbrans’ 1996 kidnapping conviction, told the CBC that he was paid $5,000 in 2003 to appear on videotape, denying that he was kidnapped and saying the leader was being unfairly persecuted.
That video was part of Helbrans’ successful refugee application that claimed he was being targeted in Israel for his anti-Zionist beliefs. Now Fima, who did not want to appear on camera, says it was a lie and that he was indeed kidnapped, according to the program.
Sect spokesman Uriel Goldman also testified at the Immigration and Refugee Board hearing, saying that when he served in the Israeli Defence Forces, he was ordered to infiltrate the sect, according to the documentary.
The IDF told the fifth estate that they had no record of Goldman.
The Star did not independently talk to Goldman or Fima.
Former refugee board commissioner Gilles Ethier remembers Goldman’s testimony as being an important factor in the decision to grant Helbrans refugee status.
“That was an important element as I recall because it illustrates the fact that the state or the government was giving some importance to this gentleman,” Ethier told the show.
[...] In 1996, Helbrans was convicted of kidnapping while the group was living in New York. He was sentenced to six years in prison and served two. Fima was the boy he was convicted of kidnapping. Thirteen years old at the time, Fima was brought to the rabbi by his mother who was seeking to prepare him for his bar mitzvah, according to the documentary. He disappeared for two years. The sect, and Fima himself, said he ran away of his own volition, but a court found otherwise.
Now the question is, will the Canadian authorities come to their senses, remove all the abused children from Lev Tahor's clutches, send the deranged adults for psychiatric evaluations, and revoke Helbrans's permit to live in the great white north?