Fugitive rabbi to be deported

BULAWAYO - A Bulawayo court has ordered the immediate deportation of an Israeli fugitive rabbi who had allegedly found sanctuary in Zimbabwe after fleeing several sexual charges in his country.

Eliezer Berland, 77, appeared before Bulawayo provincial magistrate Sibongile Msipa facing charges of overstaying in Zimbabwe after his visitor entry certificate expired.

He was fined $200 and ordered to return to his native country.

In passing sentence, Msipa said she had considered his advanced age, ill health, special diet and the fact that he is a first time offender.

“Imprisonment is not suitable for a first time  offender and a person who pleaded guilty. He is married and has six children. The offender is on 10 different medications and takes a special diet of fish and vegetables,” Msipa said.

She said Berland therefore is to be deported back to Israel with immediate effect.

“He has to be freed and deported to his country to take care of his family and followers,” she said.

On Monday, acting on a tip-off, detectives from Border Control Unit stationed at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport and Immigration officers stormed Berland’s hotel room at Holiday Inn were he was staying with some of his followers and asked to see his travel documents.

Berland’s passport and permit indicated that he had overstayed his visit, leading to his arrest.

According to press reports in Israel, the rabbi, who arrived in Zimbabwe in December last year, is on the run from Israeli police who want to question him about alleged sexual assaults on his female followers who include minors.

Before coming to Zimbabwe, Berland stayed in the United States, Italy, Switzerland and Morocco were he was ordered to leave by the king after a Moroccan newspaper published an article profiling him and detailing the circumstances which led him to flee Israel.

Ever since he came to Zimbabwe the leader of the Shuvu Banim Breslov Hadisic faction had been staying at different hotels in Bulawayo and led worship services for members of the small Zimbabweans Jewish community at a city synagogue.

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