Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Fugitive Breslov rabbi Eliezer Berland, 79, has been successfully extradited from South Africa to Israel, with the Israeli police arresting him upon arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport on suspicion of various sex offenses
Berland has been wanted by the authorities since he fled Israel in February 2013, and was arrested in South Africa in April 2016, leading finally to his extradition back to Israel after a lengthy legal process. Upon his arrest, police took the rabbi for questioning. Depending on the developments of the interrogation, police will ask for court approval of an extension of Berland's custody. Berland, the leader of the Shuvu Banim community of the Breslov Hassidic sect, fled Israel after claims of sexual abuse were made against him by several women, including a 15-year-old girl. He has since resided in Florida, Switzerland, Morocco, Holland, and Zimbabwe along with a band of devoted followers in his efforts to escape extradition to Israel. The rabbi was arrested in Amsterdam in 2015, but escaped before he could be extradited, and made his way back to South Africa, having previously sought shelter there after being expelled from Zimbabwe in 2014. “The completion of the extradition process this morning is an additional expression of the determined and professional work of the Israel Police, the State Attorney’s Office, and the law enforcement agencies in Israel and the close cooperation with global law enforcement agencies, which are not limited by time or place,” the Israel Police said in a press statement following Berland’s arrest.