Berland: Latest news plus video of extradition
The video, above, was posted on Rabbi Berland’s English-language
blog on Wesnesday by followers of their revered rabbi
After more three years on the run, Rabbi Eliezer Berland, leader of the Shuvu Banim sect, with headquarters in Jerusalem, was extradited to Israel on Monday night’s El Al flight departing from Oliver Thambo Airport, accompanied by Interpol agents. On landing at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport, he was handed over to the Israeli police who arrested him and took him into custody where he was scheduled to be questioned on “suspicion of serious sex offences”.
Website Israelnationalnews.com (Arutz Sheva) reported that the extradited rabbi lost consciousness during the hearing at Ayalon prison and that he was evacuated to Assaf Harofeh Hospital in Tel Aviv. The site reported that his followers plan to set up a protest tent to call for his release.
Some 50 of his followers took the same flight as him on Monday night and hundreds were at Ben Gurion airport to meet him on Tuesday.
Rabbi Berland cuts a lonely figure on his journey to Israel on Monday night. JR Online has kept users inforormed
The extradition was conducted with full co-operation between the SA authorities and their Israeli counterparts – but in complete secrecy. Reciprocal arrangements were made with the two countries’ police, justice and foreign affairs departments and even El Al did not know about it.
The Israeli Embassy told SA Jewish Report that South African authorities had placed him in the custody of Interpol agents who escorted him on the flight to Israel.
Berland fled Israel when called for police questioning on allegations of sexually abusing some female members of his sect and has wandered from country to country for three years with two stints in South Africa. The Hawks and Interpol failed with two attempts to arrest him before he fled to Holland in 2014, and again after his return to South Africa late last year. They finally got their man just prior to Pesach.
Israel’s outgoing Deputy Ambassador to South Africa, Michael Freeman, told Jewish Report on Tuesday that, “on landing at Ben-Gurion Airport, he was handed over to the police and immediately arrested and taken into custody where he is being questioned on suspicion of serious sexual offences”.
Speaking on behalf of the embassy, Freeman said: “We are pleased that this part of the story has finally come to an end.”
Freeman, who will be taking up a new position in the UK next month, said that the “co-operation between the South African and Israeli authorities was professional and excellent on every level”.
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Parts of the story did, in fact, leak to Israel’s Arutz Sheva news website yesterday afternoon. David
Freeman says not even El Al was aware before the time that they were to be carrying one of Israel’s most wanted fugitives. Around 50 of Rabbi Berland’s followers bought all the remaining seats on the plane, says Freeman, “and if there were more available they would have taken those too”.
On Rabbi Berland’s English-language blog, his followers on Tuesday posted the following: “The Tzadik is coming home! 12 Tamuz is the day that Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn was released from a capital sentence and imprisonment in Soviet Russia (1927), today is the day that the Tzaddik Rav Eliezer Berland will be returning to Eretz Yisrael.”
The embassy’s Michael Freeman asked to “publicly thank the South African authorities and all those involved in the case, both here in South Africa as well as Israel”, for their assistance.
Israelnationalnews.com on Monday afternoon published an interesting angle to the story saying that Berland’s own son, Nahman, who had been in South Africa to celebrate his father’s 79th birthday with him, now condemns his “criminal father” and, further, that “Breslov rabbis warn public to ‘keep away’ from fugitive’ Rabbi Berland”
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