A Guatemalan court last week approved the extradition of Lev Tahor leader Yaakov Weingarten and his brother Shmuel Weingarten to the US to stand trial on charges of kidnapping and abuse of children.
An extradition order for a third brother, Yoel Weingarten, is expected to be approved in the coming days.
Yaakov Weingarten was arrested about seven months ago by Guatemalan security forces on the first day of Pesach after attempting to kidnap children on Shabbos, a tactic used by the cult to thwart the parents from pursuing them.
According to the US Department of Justice, Lev Tahor leaders not only engaged in kidnapping but “embraced several extreme practices, including invasive monitoring of members, frequent beatings, and forced marriages of minors to adult members. Children in Lev Tahor are often subject to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.”
“We are grateful for the excellent cooperation from our partners in Mexico and Guatemala who helped us hold these leaders of Lev Tahor accountable for their behavior,” FBI assistant director William F. Sweeney Jr said in April.
“International borders will not stop the FBI from pursuing justice and enforcing violations of our laws, especially when you target children. The behavior alleged today is outrageous, and there is no justification for it whatsoever.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)