After a long and exhausting saga in which our Rebbe, Rabbi Eliezer Berland shlit”a, had to deal with a hostile system unashamed to use any means available to torture him, it appears that the story stands to come to a close, bezras Hashem.
Attorney Amit Hadad answers all the questions about the plea bargain which Rav Berland shlit”a was forced to sign in light of his precarious state of health, which prevents him from setting the record straight and proving his complete innocence.
The interviewer from the Breslov line (9148*) begins with the question which pains and enrages many who are watching from the sidelines the scandalous handling of the trial against Rav Berland shlit”a.
Interviewer: “The question which many are asking: Why does Rav Berland time after time have to admit to things which aren’t even a crime? Why does he even need to reach a plea bargain and can’t prove his innocence, that he didn’t do anything?”
Hadad: “To our grief, we are familiar with the situation of Rav Berland. I think that there is no one who doesn’t know how ill the Rav is and how his strength doesn’t permit him, and in relation to this we are required to balance various considerations. I think that we’ve reached an arrangement which from the Rav’s standpoint is excellent, but we do this with great pain. We really thought and still think, that to manage this case, if Rav Berland was in his youth, we could have reached significant accomplishments. In any case, this arrangement is good and appropriate. I think that the state revealed, at the end of the day, responsibility regarding the Rav’s situation, and I hope that we’ll very speedily be after this affair.”
Interviewer: “If we had continued until the finish line, would the Rav have come out innocent despite all the mudslinging in the media and newspapers against the Rav?”
Hadad: “The Rav admitted in the bill of indictment, and we certainly are not changing our minds on that proclamation, but as a defense attorney, I think that there is a lot to advocate regarding what to do with this case. I think that if the affairs were to reach the court, we could have done a great deal, and I’m very optimistic in relation to the result if we were managing the case.
“I think that from the standpoint of the case, we have very excellent arguments. I think that the affairs would have collapsed by themselves, but you need to remember that we are managing considerations which are beyond the handling of the case in court. Here, there is the consideration of what is right for the Rav, but we reached a decision that we are coming to an agreement. Again, I think that also it is hard for the other side to swallow this agreement from their standpoint. This mutual sourness says, it seems, that we did something very good.”
Interviewer: “What is the plea bargain spoken of?”
Hadad: “The Rav sat in incarceration for a period of around 13 months. This time, of course, will count for him. The punishment which will be sentenced on the Rav is 18 months minus the 13 months already served. He…will have served his punishment at the beginning of the month of October. During this time, he will continue to remain in house arrest. He can see his family members more, speak more, can be more in connection with the close surroundings, certainly.
“We hope that we can argue in due course that the Rav is also eligible to [removing] a third [of his sentence]. With this, the matter will conclude, and we can depart from this sad affair, as we said all the time.
“We held all the time that the experiment of taking a religious practice and turning it into a criminal transgression is a wrong experiment and not right. I think that also the other side thinks that this wasn’t a successful experiment from their standpoint.”
Inteviewer: “In the past, a plea bargain of 14 months was proposed which blew up?”
Hadad: “The legal advisor to the government, to our grief, decided that the previous plea bargain wasn’t right. With many assumptions we signed on that plea bargain. We’re basically found in the same place, at least to our reasoning. Therefore, it was too bad that there was intervention then, but we respect the decision. This plea bargain already passed his approval.”
Interviewer: “What is the next stage?”
Hadad: “There was the signing and presentation of the agreement. Next week, on Sunday, claims for sentencing will be held, and we will argue jointly to adopt the plea agreement from a standpoint of punishment and we’ll receive the verdict.”
Interviewer: “Attorney Amit Hadad, this is the place to thank you for this entire period that you worked on the case. Many in the community would like to thank you personally…We thank you in their name.
“We saw your wide heart, that you acted with all the heart, you connected to the Rav… Thank you.”
Hadad: “I have to admit that the Rav really is a unique figure and the case against him is so not right. To assist as much as possible, really, is a great merit, baruch Hashem.”
Interviewer: “I want to tell to the listeners how they presented before you the Rav when you arrived to represent him, and what you saw afterwards — the world is completely upside down.”
Hadad: “To my grief, there are a lot of people who took upon themselves as a mission to try and harm… It’s not my place to judge them, but I think that the time has arrived that everyone should calm down.”
Interviewer: “We are all in the hope that the Rav will conclude this saga and live 120 years amidst nachas and happiness without new troubles.”
Interviewer: “Amit Hadad, thank you very much.”
Audio of the interview (in Hebrew)