Netherlands – Rabbi Eliezer Berland has once again evaded law enforcement authorities, this time pulling a disappearing act from the Dutch justice system which had just ordered Berland’s extradition back to Israel to face charges for alleged sex crimes.
Police say Berland has fled the Netherlands without a passport and would have gone to a country without an extradition treaty with Israel. There are rumors that Berland may have fled to Latin America, according to Dutch publication Volkskrant.
“It is currently unclear where he is,” said Dutch prosecutor Henri Tillart. “Through Interpol in Israel, we are made aware of rumors that Berland would have left the Netherlands.
But hard evidence for it does not exist. Berland must report back to the police by late afternoon Tuesday. If he does not, then there is grounds to keep him in the Netherlands.”
Berland’s attorney, Louis de Leon, said Berland has not been seen in more than a week and his phone has been disconnected, making it impossible to reach him. He also noted that Berland was not present at his shul for Shabbos, which is “highly unusual for him.”
As previously reported on TOT News, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled last week that Berland, 78, can be extradited to Israel, overturning an earlier local court ruling in February denying Israel’s extradition request.
The Supreme Court decision came after months of delays in the extradition process, including a hospital stay for Berland in January, who was said to be suffering from heart-related issues at the time.
Berland fled to the Netherlands from Israel three years ago after several women and a 15-year-old girl accused the rabbi of sexual assault. Thus far, Berland had successfully dodged law enforcement authorities in the United States, South Africa, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, and Morocco on these charges.
He was arrested by Dutch police at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in September after evading South African authorities, but had been free on bail pending the outcome of the extradition ruling.