Rabbi Wanted for Sex Crimes to Be Extradited to Israel

Shuvu Banim leader Eliezer Berland spent three years on the run from Israeli police, but will now be sent back after arrest in South Africa.

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Rabbi Eliezer Berland, who is wanted for sex crimes in Israel, appears before the Randburg magistrate's court, South Africa, April 20, 2016.
Rabbi Eliezer Berland, convicted of sexual abuse, appears before the Randburg magistrate's court, South Africa, April 20, 2016.Credit: Ilan Ossendryver, SA Jewish Report
Sharon Pulwer
Sharon Pulwer

Rabbi Eliezer Berland, leader of the Shuvu Banim community, signed an extradition agreement Wednesday which will see him returned from South Africa to Israel, according to a source involved with the case.

Berland, 78, is suspected in a number of sexual crimes, namely against women who were part of the Suvu Banim community, one of the main groups affiliated with Breslov, which functions as an independenet Hasidic branch.

Since Berland's arrest in April, extradition proceedings have been handled by the international department of the State Attorney's Office.

Berland was arrested in Johannesburg after three years on the run in the U.S., Morocco, Zimbabwe (from where he was expelled in April, 2014), the Netherlands and other countries on three continents. Berland originally fled Israel in April 2013 when he was called in for questioning.

He was arrested in Holland in 2014 and extradition talks began with Israel, but Berland managed to flee once more in July, 2015. Holland had already decided that Berland would be extradited and he appealed the decision, but then took the opportunity to flee upon being released to house arrest.

Berland's lawyer in Israel said that he was resigning from representing his client, but the Justice Ministry declined to confirm or deny the recent developments.

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