Lev Tahor members in Guatemala can stay up to 3 months

Yoil Weingarten, left, a member of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor, talks to a reporter in the tourist town of Panajachel, a few hours west of Guatemala City. He travelled there with other members of Lev Tahor, although he is not a blood relative of the group of two adults and six children involved in a custody dispute.

The Lev Tahor family that left Canada for Guatemala in early March is allowed to stay there with no special conditions — for now.

Uriel Goldman, the spokesman for the LevTahor group living in Chatham, Ont., confirmed Wednesday that the family no longer has to go to the Canadian embassy in Guatemala City as a condition of its stay in Central America.

The family is now permitted to stay in the country for up to three months, as stipulated by the Guatemala’s immigration and visa rules.

The group of three adults and six children landed in Guatemala on March 4 after they left their homes in Chatham, Ont., amid a custody battle between members of LevTahor and Chatham-Kent Children’s Services.

The family entered Guatemala via a transfer in Mexico City, while another group connecting through Trinidad and Tobago got stopped and sent back to Canada.

A previous judgment rendered by a Guatemalan court prevented Canadian and local authorities from seizing the children on an existing order from Canada. Judge Mariela de Leon ruled there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a removal order.

Originally settled in Quebec, the entire sect fled the province in November while in the midst of a custody battle with Quebec's Youth Protection Services.

Members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect are expected back in a Chatham court regarding the custody issue on April 4.