9 Apr 2008

Calls for fugitive Israeli rabbi to contact police

Canwest News Service - Canada

April 8, 2008

by Neco Cockburn

OTTAWA - Ottawa Rabbi Reuven Bulka is calling on an Israeli rabbi to turn himself in to authorities after police uncovered a "horrific" case of child abuse.

Israeli authorities have accused Rabbi Elior Chen of playing a role in the alleged abuse suffered over several months by two of a woman's eight children. Chen is believed to have fled to Canada.

Media reports of the abuse, which describe the children, aged three and four, being burned and beaten with hammers, have shaken the country.

The three-year-old boy suffered permanent brain damage as a result of the abuse, according to police, who reportedly found hammers, knives and other objects believed to have been used during the abuse in Chen's apartment. Reports say Chen served as a "spiritual mentor" to the woman.

"It's one of the worst case we've had to deal with in the last few years," Israel police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said in an interview Tuesday.

Rosenfeld said police are in the process of alerting Canadian authorities and starting extradition proceedings regarding Chen, who fled the country after the children's mother was arrested more than a week ago.

Rosenfeld said it is unknown where in Canada Chen may be, but most flights from Israel would have landed in Montreal or Toronto, with a connection through the U.S.

Bulka, co-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, called on Chen to turn himself in to authorities and said the Canadian Jewish Congress could arrange his surrender.

"I'm just hoping that somehow or other he'll listen to reason," he said.

"It's something that hits home, obviously, because it's a member of the Jewish community. We had to make clear that we're on the side of the law. We're not convicting him of anything, but if there are charges, he should face them."

Ottawa Citizen

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