R. Berland's case to be reviewed but bail denied

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Justice Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane told Rabbi Eliezer Berland late last week in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg that as he was so "well-connected" he remained a flight risk and she therefore denied “the Rabbi on the run” bail as he awaits extradition to Israel to face charges of alleged sex crimes. The fugitive rabbi had asked the court for bail until the review of his extradition order.
by ANT KATZ | Jul 06, 2016

The justice rejected Berland’s request to have his detention in Johannesburg Prison declared unlawful, saying he remained a flight risk and could not be trusted.

Berland, 79 is the leaders of the Shuvu Banim Breslov Chasidic movement based at his yeshiva just a stone’s throw away from the Kotel in Jerusalem. He launched an urgent application last month, arguing that he should be released to a “place of safety” pending a legal review of his extradition order launched by his lawyers last month.

The review will be conducted by a yet-to-be-appointed justice on a date to be advised.

Justice Kathree-Setiloane said that the application was based on the argument that the extradition process in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court had been flawed and irregular and therefore unlawful.

Rabbi Berland claims that the denial of bail and his continued detention at “Sun City” prison in Johannesburg should therefore be set aside. Berland also asked the justice to order on certain "guarantees" if he is, in fact, to be extradited to Israel.

Justice Kathree-Setiloane ruled that there had not been any major irregularities in the extradition and bail hearings and rejected the application to grant house arrest. The justice heard that the rabbi was igniting a culture clash within South African courts and prisons as they were not established to cater to his devout needs.

Berland was clearly “very resourceful” said the justice, as well as being well-connected, had jumped bail of around R850 000 in Holland, had two fake passports when arrested, and therefore remained a “flight risk”. He would have to stay in detention as “he cannot be trusted,” she said.

She also said that, in her view, Berland’s review had “no prospect of success”.

After the judgment, members of the defence team and some of Berland’s followers asked Prosecutor Nerisha Naidoo that if Berland was to be extradited, whether she could arrange for it to be done as quickly as possible.

They expressed concern about the rabbi’s welfare in prison and said they could arrange a ticket almost immediately. Naidoo replied that if a request was made in writing, she would see what she could arrange.

The review, which has been served on Minister of Justice Michael Masutha, the National Prosecuting Authority and Randburg Magistrate’s Court, questions the legality of the decision to extradite Berland to Israel. The extradition order was signed by the minister on June 3.

Berland has been on the run from Israel since 2012, living under the noses of authorities in Morocco Holland, SA and Zimbabwe.

Berland’s legal team is led by attorney Ellie Karp and advocate Anton Katz SC.

Related reads:

23 June: Surprise as Rabbi Berland seeks bail
28 June: Berland now to hear his fate on Thursday
01 July: Judge rejects ‘untrustworthy’ Berland bail

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