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Talks ongoing on Jewish group

By NALINEE SEELAL Saturday, March 8 2014

LOCAL immigration authorities were up until late yesterday liaising with the Canadian Government with respect to making a decision on what to do with nine members of the Lev Tahor Hasidic Jewish religious group, who were denied entry into this country on Carnival Monday night, after they failed to properly answer questions asked by Immigration Officers at Piarco International Airport.

The nine persons are currently staying in a room at the airport and have refused to be interviewed by local and international media. Yesterday, National Security Minister Gary Griffith told Newsday that discussions to have the group returned to Canada were ongoing and he hopes a decision would be made shortly.

Newsday understands that officers from the National Operations Centre (NOC) have been in close contact with the nine and have been trying to coax them to return to Quebec, Canada.

However group members remain adamant that their final destination is Guatemala and have no desire to return to Canada.

On Wednesday, local lawyers representing the group, whose nationalities are American, Canadian and Israeli, sought a writ of habeas corpus but this was denied by Justice Vasheist Kokaram on Thursday, following a court hearing at the Hall of Justice, Port-of-Spain.

As previously reported by Newsday, the judge noted the writ contained several procedural defects. He expressed concern that the group which contained six minors, ranging from the age of nine to 16 years, none of whom appeared to speak English and that no evidence was provided as to their link to the three adults who were also rejected entry into this country.

Kokaram had also questioned the group’s purpose for leaving Canada for Guatemala.

“What is troubling is that there are no details regarding the legitimacy of their travel. No nexus between the adults and the children. Why are they here in the first place?” he asked, before dismissing the application.

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