Israeli police have started extradition proceedings against an Israeli rabbi who fled to Canada after being suspected of abusing the children of one of his followers, a police spokesman said Monday.
Rabbi Elior Chen and his followers are suspected of abusing two children, aged 3 and 4, who were burned and severely beaten with hammers, knives and other instruments, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. The 3-year-old suffered permanent brain damage, he added.
Rosenfeld called Chen "one of the main suspects" in the case. Though he has not been charged with a specific crime, "He's definitely connected to the abuse," Rosenfeld said.
He said Chen had fled to Canada in recent days. The children's mother was charged with abuse last week and remains in jail.
Although police said they were still investigating the motive behind the abuse, Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported that Rabbi Chen was trying to cleanse the children of Satanic possession.
In journals describing the abuse, the rabbi wrote, "Put stones on a hot plate . . . when they are boiling, put them on the bodies of the children and then they will be cleansed," Yediot reported.
The Haaretz daily quoted an unidentified friend of Chen's who said the rabbi chose Canada because "the extradition law is tough" there. It was not known whether Chen holds Canadian citizenship, and the Canadian Embassy did not return messages seeking comment.
In a similar case, complicated extradition laws helped New York Rabbi Avrohom Mondrowitz evade extradition for 23 years when he fled the United States for Israel in 1984 after being charged with sexually abusing children. Mondrowitz was finally arrested last fall and remains in jail in Israel.
How likely is it that Canad will extradite a man who is not charged with a crime?
If he entered Canada legally and has either dual citizenship or refugee status, I'd say extradition is very unlikely.