Berland now to hear his fate on Thursday
However, before the Israeli authorities could react, Berland’s new legal team filed an appeal to have the April extradition order reviewed.
This resulted in a long hearing as Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane had to first decide if there was any chance that a review could succeed before addressing the issue of a bail on special terms.
Berland will otherwise remain in detention in Joburg’s “Sun City” prison under his fugitive status awaiting to hear if he will be granted a review, and the outcome of that.
Berland’s new legal team includes attorneys Michael and Ellie Karp and Advocate Anton Katz SC.
Katz argued the case that Rabbi Berland’s imprisonment had been “unlawful” and that the proceedings at Berland’s hearing in April were irregular.
Berland had been denied bail by Magistrate Pravina Raghunandan at the Randburg Circuit Court and, said Katz on Thursday, on this basis was committed to prison which is not the correct procedure for an extradition case.
“Once he was found to be liable for extradition and that there is enough evidence against him to be prosecuted in Israel, the committal order (to prison) should have been made based on those two rulings’.” Katz said.
This had not been the case. “Following this a bail application should have taken place,” Katz told the judge, “but instead the committal was only made only based on bail evidence and no other basis.”
As was the case in Berland’s previous hearing in April, the National Prosecuting Authority brought out their big guns. The Prosecutor, Advocate Deon Barnard, dismissed Katz’s claims citing that Berland’s detention had been lawfully decided upon. “Up until the committal order is made the magistrate can entertain a bail application,” he told the judge.
Legal teams for both Rabbi Berland and Shai Musli, another Israeli extradition case pending, have told Jewish Report that there may be flaws in the SA laws governing extradition.
Advocate Anton Katz told the court last week that there was a need “to craft a remedy to deal with this, there’s no such thing as a fool-proof plan but at the end of the day this man has had his liberty taken from him unlawfully.”
Berland’s previous lawyer (Themba Langa), was criticised by his new defence for not understanding the whole extradition process.
But Prosecutor Barnard took the judge through the history of April’s court proceedings in a bid to prove that procedures were adhered to according to the law.
Judge Kathree-Setiloane asked Barnard what the State would want to put in place if Berland was to be released on bail-like terms. “If a decision is made to release him, it won’t be so that he’s free to leave,” said the judge.
Barnard asked for time to consult with the prison and present the court with an order that iy could live with.
Berland is the leader of Shuvu Banim Chassidic International sect based at his Yeshiva in Jerusalem. He has been on the run since February 2013. Israel and Interpol have issued arrest warrants for him for sexual allegations that were filed by female followers.
He has sought refuge in several countries, mostly in Switzerland, Morocco and Zimbabwe before arriving in SA in 2014. After the Hawks botched two attempts to arrest him in SA, Berland fled to Holland, was given bail awaiting the outcome of an Israeli extradition request, and escaped once the order was granted – forfeiting the bail of R840,000 (at today’s exchange rate). He then returned to SA where he hid out until yet another botched attempt by the elite police unit, The Hawks, together with Interpol agents all armed to the teeth.
Judge Kathree-Setiloane said in court last week that a decision on Berland’s release was expected early this week. Attorney Michael Karp, however, told Jewish Re[port on Tuesday that they had been informed on Monday that the judgement will be issued on Thursday – when Jewish Report is already on the streets.
Catch the outcome on our website: www.sajr.co.za