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The nine-member Orthodox Hasidic Jewish group has returned to Canada. The Sunday Guardian understands that Attorney General Anand Ramlogan stepped in with legal advice that mobilised a chartered airplane from WestJet airlines and three Canadian marshals to accompany the group back to Quebec.
The unmarked plane landed at the Piarco International Airport just after 4.30 pm yesterday and by 5.56 pm, the group was on board. Nine police officers also provided additional security for the short trek to the airport from the Piarco International Hotel, where the group has been since Monday. Chief Immigration Officer Gerry Downes sought Ramlogan’s legal advice on the matter and it was found that the nine appeals were not filed within the time prescribed by the Immigration Act.
The Sunday Guardian also understands that a second group, also including children, is still being sought by Canadian officials. This group, the Sunday Guardian was told, may already be in Guatemala via Mexico. This latest development comes after the group was detained for six days at the tightly guarded Piarco International Hotel, despite an attempt to file a hasty injunction to block the move.
When a van was seen leaving the hotel yesterday, the Sunday Guardian contacted the group’s local immigration lawyer, Farai Hove Masaisai, who would only said he was currently working on an injunction to stop that exact development. But Masaisai was too late, as just 20 minutes later, the group was moved to an unmarked white plane and left the country.
The group, led by Canadian Avrohom Dinkle—who is the only English-speaker among them—has been refusing to go back to Quebec and was reportedly en route to Guatemala when local immigration officials noted inconsistencies with their responses to questions.
Ramlogan, in a telephone interview yesterday, confirmed his intervention and said the group was being sought by Canadian officials to answer questions about how the children were being treated and the conditions under which they were being kept. The group appealed that order from the Ontario Court of Appeal but fled before any pronouncement was made. Ramlogan said that appeal was dismissed while the group was “camped out” at the hotel.
“The group was never allowed entry into T&T and therefore fell into an immigration twilight zone with their status undetermined and in abeyance,” he said. Ramlogan praised immigration officers and his colleague, National Security Minister Gary Griffith, who he said worked tirelessly alongside him to finalise this issue.
“What is clear is that this group was trying to evade jurisdiction in the Canadian courts and authorities. Once the appeal was dismissed by the chief immigration officer, there was no legal justification or lawful basis upon which the group could be allowed to remain in T&T,” he said. He said the Government would never facilitate a breach of international courts.