The Jerusalem District Court convicted four disciples of accused cult leader Elior Chen of child abuse on Wednesday.
Elior Chen was the spiritual leader of an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem sect suspected of severe child abuse.
Chen and several of his followers allegedly used knives, hammers and other instruments to abuse children as young as 3 and 4 years old in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit in February and March 2008.
The four convicted followers were accused of 22 charges stemming from 40 instances of child abuse.
Earlier this month, another one of Chen’s disciples, and the mother of eight of the abused children, was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to shaking, burning and tying up her children.
During their trial in Jerusalem District Court, Roi Tsoref, David Kugman, Abraham Mitzkelachy and Simon Gabai accused Chen of participation in the abuse.
The acts of abuse include violently throwing the children around by their arms and legs, leaving a child in an electric oven until his hair burned, placing a child in a suitcase for three days, feeding a child excrement and other extreme acts of abuse. The court indictment counted 40 separate acts of abuse against the child victims.
Chen has been charged with ordering his followers to beat and psychologically the eight siblings, all children of a mother belonging to his sect. He has been described as being viewed by his adherents as a tzaddik, or righteous leader, to be emulated.
Chen justified the sadistic practices as means to exorcising demons from the children.
His trial is still ongoing.