Attorney Ephraim Dimri in Channel 20 interview answers questions about legal and medical situation of Rav Eliezer Berland shlit”a, painting a disturbing picture of severe police misconduct.
The interviewer opens with the question which has caused much bewilderment: Rav Berland is imprisoned; then how could he be arrested again at the same time?
Dimri: “Shalom and greetings. Last week, Rav Berland entered [prison] to serve a sentence because of another case. In the framework of his imprisonment, as a prisoner, it’s legally permissible in Israel to submit a request to arrest him again under the conditions of a detainee. This means an investigation is being conducted against him. There is a difference between a prisoner and a detainee. A prisoner has the conditions of a prisoner — open telephone calls, and during the course of the day he can walk around outside of the cell. However, certain restrictions are applied to a detainee… in order to not hamper the investigation itself.
“What I can say is that what is being publicized in the media in the meantime… I will clarify it as someone who is proficient in the secrets of the case and the investigation itself. It’s reasonable to assume that there is someone who collaborated with the police and gave over versions [of event] and names, and apparently one of the names which they gave over was Rabbi Eliezer Berland, and because of this, he was arrested and interrogated.
“It’s important to understand: this doesn’t mean that if he’s arrested and interrogated that they’re attributing to him involvement. This also doesn’t mean that at the end of the day an indictment will be submitted against him for involvement.
“Let’s start on an assumption that he knew — and I’m not saying that he knew about the murder or of the whereabouts of the corpse — this doesn’t tie him automatically to the murder itself. And here lies a very big problem for the police. The things I’m saying are also what the police released to the media. They are relying on the words that Rav Berland said to him: ‘you can say Kaddish for your brother’. But the fact that he said ‘you can say Kaddish for your brother’ doesn’t necessarily connect him to the murder case. It could be that in the role of Rabbi, he told him that he could say Kaddish for his brother or sit Shiva.
“As someone who also personally knows Rav Berland, I am convinced that he wasn’t involved in anything connected to the murder itself. Perhaps in the role of Rabbi, I am saying ‘perhaps,’ that he knew about it after the fact when people came to consult with him in the role of Rabbi. Regarding this, there is the confidentiality privilege of a religious minister [called ‘clergy-penitent privilege’ in legal jargon] exactly like an attorney — a Rabbi who they consult with cannot turn them over to the police.
“Rav Berland didn’t allow anyone, G-d forbid, to murder.”
The interviewer asks: You say that the leaks to the media is a type of police manipulation in order to arouse other suspects to talk?
Dimri: “It could be.
“More than this, I’ll reveal to you another secret. Here is the scoop for you in the program: Rav Berland, who they announced in the media that he is under arrest, was actually in medical treatment at the time. He wasn’t actually arrested. Only several hours later police investigators came to him and summoned him for interrogation, but he wasn’t under arrest at the time that was publicized. From personal knowledge I say to you — as someone who spoke to one of the attorneys who was there with him at the time — he said to me, ‘Attorney Dimri, listen. He is under medical care in a place that’s confidential at the moment, he has not been arrested!'”
Interviewer: So what’s the significance of the police lying and saying that Rav Berland is under arrest when he was not under arrest?
Dimri: “It could be that this is also part of the manipulation of the police during an investigation. We would need an entire chapter to explain the methods of extracting force confessions. Invite me some time to your program and I’ll teach you an entire chapter about the methods of police interrogation. It appears that this is one of the interrogation methods of the police — Rav Berland wasn’t under arrest, but the police publicized that he was under arrest.
“I hold that with what they have at this present moment, this will not develop into a writ of indictment. The entire purpose of all this manipulation is part of the campaign to dismantle and fragment the entire organization of Chasidut Breslov, the entire organization of Yeshivat Shuvu Banim.
“There is one goal — to fragment everything that is around [the Rav]. It appears that it irritates someone or something specific. I have no idea how there are all these organizations which are claiming that it’s a cult, but this isn’t really a cut — it’s not a cult at all. These are Chasidim who believe in a particular path. Therefore, from here to the actualization of a writ of indictment I think is very, very distant.
Question: “Do you think that Rav Berland will be convicted if the prosecution do manage to convince the court that he could have prevented the crime and didn’t?”
“If you look at the past of the State of Israel, very few people were convicted because of turning a blind eye [for prior knowledge of a crime] in the State of Israel. If I’m not mistaken, this was in the case of [the murder of] Yitzchak Rabin, Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin z”l — there they convicted [people] for turning a blind eye, but this [was] one of the rare cases. It’s very, very hard to convict for turning a blind eye.
“The medical condition of Rav Berland isn’t good. We’re talking about an elderly Jew, 84-years-old, with very significant underlying conditions which for the sake of individual privacy we won’t detail, but he is very ill.”