Head of the Shuvu Banim Kehilla, Rabbi Eliezer Berland Shlita, has reportedly been taken into custody in Johannesburg, Southern Africa. According to the reports reaching Eretz Yisrael, the arrest followed a pursuit that lasted hours. A number of the Rabbis closest associates were reportedly taken into custody with him for assisting him to flee authorities in this and other cases.
The news was received with shock in the Shuvu Banim Kehilla. The Rabis attorney, Sharon Nahari, is verifying the reported arrest. It is added Rabbi Berland recently underwent surgery for an unreported condition and was not totally well when arrested and has been hospitalized.
Rabbi Berland has been wanted for question by Israel Police for a number of years. In fact, he fled over three years ago and has since been traveling to avoid arrest, seeking refuge in countries that do not maintain an extradition agreement with Israel. The Rabbi fled to Morocco, but was then compelled to flee that country and spent Chanukah 2013 in Zimbabwe. He was instructed to leave there in April 2014 and from there he headed to S. Africa. An international warrant for his arrest was issued against him while in S. Africa and from there, he traveled to Amsterdam where he spent Yom Kippur with hundreds of chassidim. During this period he was hospitalized and then he was permitted to leave custody while the court deliberated the case addressing his extradition to Israel. In February 2015 the Dutch court ruled to honor the Israeli extradition request and send him back. He managed to flee again and remained in hiding until his arrest now, in S. Africa. The rav’s travels to escape extradition to Israel included other stops as well, including a brief stay in Switzerland.
According to one version of the report, the rav was hospitalized for some type of cardiac episode and when he was released, he was shocked to find special forces and agents of Interpol waiting to place him and two aides into custody.
It would now appear that the rabbi will finally be returned to Israel where he is likely to face charges of assault against a number of women.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)