Brazil to extradite 'Rabbi' Elior Chen to Israel

Suspected ringleader, mentor in child abuse case to stand trial nearly a year after arrest in Sao Paolo.

elior chen 224.88 (photo credit: Israel Police)
elior chen 224.88
(photo credit: Israel Police)
Brazil's Supreme Court voted unanimously to extradite to Israel Elior Chen, the self-styled rabbi who influenced members of his flock to abuse their children in order to "correct their corrupt souls," the Justice Ministry announced Friday. Chen, 29, will stand trial in Israel on charges of abusing minors, soliciting to abuse minors, assaulting minors and conspiracy to commit a crime. His alleged crimes became known after two brothers, one three years old and the other four-and-a-half, were rushed to hospital on March 12, 2008 after suffering from abuse. The younger child suffered severe brain damage and has not recovered. The older one, who was admitted with burns, was released three weeks later. Their mother was indicted for the crime. It emerged that she belonged to a cult led by Chen, who, after the affair became public, fled first to Canada and later to Brazil. According to the indictment against the mother, "during the months of February and March, the accused moved with her children to her mother's apartment in Jerusalem. During that period, the mother had trouble with the responsibility of raising her children, particularly her younger ones. "She turned to [Chen] and asked his advice regarding their upbringing. [Chen] concluded that evil and harmful elements were nestling in her children and advised her, and other suspects, to perform 'corrections' in the children to help them and expel the harmful elements." After a search of several weeks, Israeli authorities discovered that Chen was hiding in Sao Paolo. On April 23, 2008, Israel asked the Brazilian authorities to arrest and hold him so it could file a formal request for his extradition. It took more than one month to locate him and he was arrested on June 3, 2008. He decided to resist his extradition. His Israeli lawyer, Ariel Atari, said Chen was innocent but refused to return to Israel because he had allegedly been traumatized three years earlier, when the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) had interrogated him in connection with a conspiracy to blow up the Temple Mount. During the court case in Sao Paolo, Chen's Brazilian attorney argued that Israel was not authorized to put him on trial because some of his alleged crimes had been perpetrated in Betar Illit in the West Bank, which, he said, is not under Israeli sovereignty. The Justice Ministry's International Department rebutted the argument and convinced the Brazilian Supreme Court to expel him. According to the Ynet online news service, Chen is due to return to Israel in a month to six weeks.