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Berland’s hearing ends as it started, dramatically

  • B16 Berland waits HOME
Randburg magistrate denied Rabbi Eliezer Berland (pictured, left, for JR Online by Ilan Ossendryver) bail after his “brazen” escape from Holland while on bail there. His lawyer Harold Knopp presented legal precedents for internationally wanted criminals sticking to their bail conditions, including that of gangster Shai Musli, in an effort to convince the court to grant bail. Prosecutor, Adv. Nerisha Naidoo, expressed dismay at Knopp’s connecting Berland and Musli. SA “does not have to bend over backwards for a fugitive from justice,” she said. FOLLOW THE DAILY DRAMA...
by JEREMY GORDIN & ANT KATZ | Apr 30, 2016

On Thursday 28 April, after a fraught and sometimes bizarre hearing, Rabbi Eliezer Berland, wanted for sex crimes in Israel, was today denied bail in the Randburg magistrate’s court, South Africa.

This means that Berland, 79, will be detained at the Medium A section of Johannesburg Prison, known sarcastically by inmates and others as Sun City, for the remainder of Passover and until his extradition order is signed by the Minister of Justice.

berland 16 TallSA government departments are not well-known for the rapid processing of bureaucratic matters but it is understood that the Israeli embassy in SA will be doing its best to have Berland’s extradition implemented as quickly as possible. It is understood too that Berland will be allowed to keep the single cell that Regional Magistrate Pravina Raghunandan had ordered he should have due to his age and dietary requirements.



Rabbi Berland pictured in Johannesburg on his 79th birthday

Berland may appeal against the bail finding but then, given the serious backlogs in the SA “justice system,” he could be held in custody for literally months.

Berland, the leader of the Shuvu Banim Breslov Chasidic movement worldwide, has been on the run since 2012 when allegations were made by female followers in Israel that he had sexually assaulted them.

Berland has managed to live under the noses of authorities from Morocco to the Netherlands and Zimbabwe. In South Africa, prior to his arrest on April 7, he had been staying at hotels and golf estates.

He is followed by about 40 families, to whom he is a spiritual guru.



More drama last Thursday

Thursday did not go off without incident, however. It began with Berland’s attorney, Themba Langa, alleging in his final submissions that the fake Israeli passport found in Berland’s possession when he was arrested had been “planted” by Interpol agents.

Langa also took offence at Raghunandan remarking that he sometimes tended to “manipulate” evidence. Langa told the magistrate that he did not “like being called names by the court”. Court was adjourned for 20 minutes and when the magistrate returned, she asked Langa three times if he wished to apply for her recusal. He declined.

p16 BI1



LEFT: Rav Berland with wife and daughter at the Randburg Magistrate's Circuit Court - PIC: Ilan Ossendrywer for SAJR


Langa said it seemed understandable that Berland believed he was “under threat” by the Israel state because, he asked, “why else would a state spend so much money and energy chasing a man accused of kissing a woman on the cheek?”

Langa also accused the South African state of trying to “microwave justice” by omitting certain steps in the extradition process and that therefore Berland’s continued detention was clearly unlawful.

Legal Pundits tell Jewish Report Online that Raghunandan had, in fact, ruled in favour of the extradition without anybody noticing it. This means that Rav Berland's legal team have only one avenue open to them - that of applying for leave to appeal the rulings of Magistrate Raghunandan' - and that she is unlikely to concede to that. That being the case, Berland's extradition would take place as soon as the Minister of Justice signs off on it.



Big Guns also failed to impress

   
Thereafter, it was up to the big guns. Advocate Harold Knopp presented the court with a number of legal arguments and precedents on behalf of Rav Eliezer Berland. 

He argued that there did exist ways in which Berland could be given bail while at the same time “the interests of justice” could be served.

Knopp suggested house arrest, electronic tagging, and other stringent conditions.

Musli Shai bigAfter all, he said, the same court had given bail to one Shai Musli, said to be head of one of the largest and most influential crime families in Israel and wanted for conspiracy to commit a number of murders – which were surely more serious crimes than Berland was wanted for.



Knopp said he knew Musli (pictured right, also in Randburg Magistrate's Court) was obeying his bail stipulations and had not fled because he was one of Musli’s legal representatives.

Prosecutor, Advocate Nerisha Naidoo, said the “truncation” of the extradition process had been by agreement between the prosecution and defence; that she was dismayed by the apparent connection between Berland and Musli (via Knopp); and that Berland was clearly a flight risk if one considered that he had somehow managed to procure other passports when his extradition appeal failed in Holland – and had then fled the Netherlands, forfeiting bail of 50 000 euros.

“Berland clearly does not act alone, he has assistance everywhere. This country does not have to bend over backwards for a fugitive from justice,” said Naidoo.



“They want to kill him, that is all"

After a long adjournment, Raghunandan said she had carefully considered the evidence from everyone.

She said she was concerned that Berland’s affidavits “were worryingly devoid of information” – he said he was in danger from the state of Israel and various other people but offered no detail. Above all, it was his “brazen” procurement of a passport in Holland while on bail and then his departure from Holland that “weighed heavily” with her.

She concluded, therefore, she said, that Berland was definitely a flight risk, bail was accordingly denied, and Berland had to be detained in prison until the Minister of Justice signed off on the extradition.

As she left the court, Berland’s main assistant, known only as Natan, walked up to the prosecutor’s desk, saying loudly, “They want to kill him, that is all, they want to kill him, that is what this is about, they want to kill him. How can you send an old man to a place where he cannot eat?” 



Follow the Court proceedings:

JEREMY GORDIN & ANT KATZ | 30 Apr: Hearing ends as it started, dramatically

ANT KATZ | 28 Apr: Rabbi Berland denied bail, faces extradition

ANT KATZ | 28 Apr: Live from all-night vigil for Rav Berland

ANT KATZ | 27 Apr: Mass Prayers to try and defeat the odds

JEREMY GORDIN | 26 Apr: Rav Berland opts for ‘Sun City’ jail

JEREMY GORDIN | 26 Apr: Berland spent Pesach in 'Sun City' prison

ANT KATZ | 25 Apr: PDF Document of Pretoria High Court papers

JEREMY GORDIN | 22 Apr: Balagan extraordinaire, bail hearing continues

ANT KATZ | 20 Apr: Berland court proceedings end in a fracas

ANT KATZ & JEREMY GORDIN | 20 Apr: Rav: Israel, SA want ‘illegal rendition’

ANT KATZ | 20 Apr: Berland to fight an uphill battle for bail

ANT KATZ | 18 Apr: Dramatic first court appearance for Berland

ANT KATZ | 13 Apr: Rabbi Eliezer Berland under arrest in hospital

ANT KATZ | 08 Apr: Hawks’ official notice ticks more Berland boxes

ANT KATZ | 08 Apr: Hawks nab 'elusive Pimpernel' Rabbi Berland

ANT KATZ | 07 Apr: Reports strongly suggest Rabbi Berland nabbed

ANT KATZ | 31 Mar: Berland says he’ll hand himself in Monday

 



The 2016 story-to-date

4 Jan 2016: 2015’S TOP NEWS-MAKER OPENS UP
    UPDATED AND INCLUDES ALL PRIOR LINKS

14 Jan:  ELUSIVE RABBI BERLAND STILL HOGS THE HEADLINES

31 Jan:  'THEY HAVE THE HALACHIC STATUS OF A RODEF'

31 Jan:  COPS BUNGLE THIRD TRY TO ARREST RABBI BERLAND

31 Jan:  DID MISTAKE LEAD TO UNINTENDED DEATH THREAT

31 Jan:  THE JEWISH COMMUNAL STATEMENT THAT WASN’T

01 Feb: HOW WE FOUND RAV BERLAND & HIS BAND OF MERRY MEN

02 Feb: SPECIAL NEWSLETTER: LATEST RAV BERLAND NEWS

03 Feb: THREAT TO SUE WRITER, NEWSPAPERS OVER DIN RODEF

03 Feb: TIME FOR BERLAND TO FACE MUSIC IN ISRAEL

04 Feb: HUNT FOR BERLAND LED TO DEATH THREATS, ALLEGATIONS

31 Mar: RABBI ELIEZER BERLAND OFFERS TO HAND HIMSELF OVER



172 related posts on SAJR to date…





Here's one not to miss!



"Berland will never return to Israel voluntarily"


Don’t miss this exclusive and revealing collaboration between Dutch daily NRC and JR Online. Hear the exclusive interview with Rabbi Berland’s Dutch lawyer, Louis de Leon, from November 2015.

Read how the ailing Rabbi hoped that a newfound diplomatic status could be the game-changer in Israel’s attempts to extradite him and how he had escaped from bail in Holland.

Israel "wanted to taunt him", said De Leon. He explains Berland’s side of those supposed sex crimes which turned him into the “rabbi-on-the-run” and confirmed Rav Berland’s plan to plant roots in SA.

2 Comments

  1. 2 David 01 May
    So I see SAJR hires playboy editors as well... [To report on alleged sex offenders nogal, Jeremy is one of the preeminent, if not THE preeminent active Jewish journos in SA. We are honoured  -ED]
  2. 1 Anthony Lange 02 May
    What I think South African Jewry has a right to know is why our 'Chief Rabbi' Warren Goldstein did not go to court to offer to take Rabbi Berland into his custody over Shabbos and Pesach and how he could have left an elderly Rabbi, The Tazadik of Our Generation to sit in prison while he holidays in Umhlanga rocks, a guest of Chabad.

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