Rabbi Eliezer Berland, who is wanted in Israel on suspicions of sexual assault, appeared before the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, according to local reports.
The 78-year-old head of the Shuvu Banim sect was arrested in South Africa after being on the run around the world for a long period of time. Israel has requested his extradition.
Berland applied for bail but before the bail application commenced, the court had to deal with issues pertaining to his extradition.
Defense attorney Themba Langa initially tried resisting extradition to Israel. He disputed the existence of an extradition treaty between South Africa and Israel, and then claimed there were several elements in the extradition order against Berland that were “overkill."
However, the State, led by advocates Deon Barnard and Nerisha Naidoo, told the magistrate that South Africa and Israel have an extradition agreement, based on the fact that both have ratified and gazetted the European Convention on Extradition into domestic law.
The Randburg Magistrate's Court ruled that Berland can be extradited back to Israel, pending a final decision by the Justice Minister.
Furthermore, Berland was denied his release to house arrest for fear that he would attempt to evade trial.
The defense argued that it would be difficult to provide the necessary food and spiritual needs during the upcoming Passover period, claiming it would be “unfair” to deny Berland the right to practice his religion.
The State proposed that Berland would have privileges of having his special dietary needs if he was to be denied bail.
The bail application is due to continue after Berland completes a cross-examination of his doctor.