Rabbi From Hell, Eliezer Berland, at Center of Gruesome Cold Case Murders Tied to Cult in Israel
JERUSALEM—A Jerusalem choose says that Eliezer Berland, certainly one of Israel’s most notorious cult leaders, who repeatedly slipped by way of the arms of regulation enforcement by fleeing the nation and securing lowered jail sentences by way of plea offers, has implicated himself in two gory unsolved murders relationship again to 1986.
Following the arrests in current weeks of seven of Berland’s followers, the defrocked rabbi, a convicted intercourse offender, was arrested on Monday at a jail in central Israel the place he’s serving an 18-month sentence for fraud.
Israeli police declare that Berland, 83, was concerned in two infamous cold cases: The kidnapping and suspected homicide of ultra-orthodox Jerusalem teenager Nissim Shitrit—who disappeared in 1986 days after submitting a police criticism claiming to have been attacked by a gang of seminary college students—and the unsolved killing of 41-year-old Avi Edri in 1990.
The brand new accusations in opposition to Berland have been positioned beneath a gag order, however some particulars have emerged following the arrest of 10 suspects for his or her association with violent “modesty squads” operated by Berland’s personality-cult-cum-religious-sect, Shuvu Banim, that terrorized ultra-orthodox Jerusalem neighborhoods 30 years in the past.
One of many suspects, stated to be males of their sixties and seventies, reportedly grew to become a state’s witness and pointed a finger on the outlaw rabbi over the murders that shocked Jerusalem, resulting in his arrest.
The sordid crimes are sufficient to show bestselling thriller author Dan Brown from the Vatican to the winding alleyways of Jerusalem’s ultra-religious courts within the lawless ’80s and ’90s.
Edri, an ultra-orthodox Jew, was discovered buried in a forest north of Jerusalem, pummeled to loss of life, shortly after he disappeared. It’s believed Berland’s personal, mafia-like “spiritual police” focused him after rumors swirled of his involvement with a lady.
Shitrit, solely 17, final seen in January 1986, was allegedly thrashed to loss of life by Berland’s goons after complaining of violence. In court docket hearings, police investigators acknowledged not having situated Shitrit’s stays, however stated that they had “indications of murder.”
“There have been so many clues, so many threads, proof that can’t be extra damning.”
In certainly one of a number of investigations, Israeli nationwide broadcaster Kann Information quoted a former Berland follower saying the boy was dismembered and buried in a forest exterior the town. His stays have by no means been discovered, however on Wednesday, police could possibly be seen engaged within the grisly process of scouring woods within the neighborhood of Jerusalem for any hint.
In an interview with Moreshet, an ultra-orthodox radio station, Shitrit’s brother, Meir, stated he was awaiting scientific proof obtained from “some lumps of earth,” gathered by forensic police in wooded land within the space of Beit Shemesh, 23 miles from Jerusalem, within the days resulting in the arrests of Berland’s followers.
He hoped that his brother’s DNA can be recognized within the soil, which might allow closure after three and a half a long time and permit him to formally grieve for his brother based on Jewish rituals, together with the seven days of mourning generally known as shiva, and the recitation of the Kaddish, the mourners lament, which can’t begin within the absence of affirmation of loss of life.
On Tuesday, Kann Information reported that beneath interrogation, when Berland confronted the surviving Shitrit, Berland bluntly stated “you’ll be able to sit shiva and say Kaddish. I’m sorry I didn’t inform you that 35 years in the past.”
In line with the channel, Berland’s son-in-law Zvi Zucker, capo of the so-called modesty squads that enforced sexual and social requirements within the airtight group of the ’80s and ’90s, admitted in a recorded dialog that he knew who murdered Shitrit and the place his physique was buried.
Police uncared for Shitrit’s disappearance for years, assuming he was the sufferer of a drug-related gangland murder.
The revelations have rocked Israel. On Tel Aviv’s well-liked Radio 103, host Guy Peleg said he had heard an interview with Shitrit’s brother and asked himself, “How can two individuals be murdered all these years in the past and nearly nothing be finished? There have been so many clues, so many threads, proof that can’t be extra damning. Two younger males murdered in such a horrifying method, the incompetent questioning of a rabbi,” earlier than concluding, “it’s simply inconceivable.”
A potential turning level was offered by the only female suspect, a former Berland cult member who revealed to police that years after the very fact, she understood she had been used as bait: She stated that in 1986, she known as Shitrit and “enticed” him to an Jerusalem condo on the instruction of Berland followers. There, different individuals she now suspects of involvement in his homicide awaited.
Berland is an enigmatic and menacing determine who has stalked Israel for many years. He fled Israel in 2013, when police opened an investigation into claims of sexual abuse introduced by ladies in his entourage, spending years roaming the USA, Italy, Switzerland and Morocco, before King Mohammed VI kicked him out in November. From Marrakech, he reportedly bolted to Egypt, then Zimbabwe, South Africa and the Netherlands.
After returning to Israel in late 2016, he confessed to rape prices however by way of an settlement with the prosecution, got here to serve solely 18 months imprisonment for 2 counts of “indecent acts” and one assault in opposition to the husband of certainly one of his victims.
In court docket, he stated: “For my deeds within the days of the Bible I might have been stoned and burned, however right now legal guidelines are completely different—there are leniencies. I remorse from the depths of my coronary heart any hurt of mine in opposition to a person or girl, that was precipitated immediately or not directly.”
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