Rabbi Eliezer Berland's detention was extended on Tuesday by nine days, after he linked himself to the murders and disappearances that took place more than 30 years ago in Jerusalem. In one of the cases, a boy named Nissim Shitrit was abducted and since then his traces have disappeared; in the other, Avi Edri was murdered and his body was found dumped in the Ramot forest.
Berland, who was arrested on Monday on suspicion of involvement in the incidents, is in jail and hospitalized at the Israel Prison Service's Medical Center after being convicted of fraud, extortion, attempted intimidation, tax offenses and money laundering. Although as part of a plea deal he was sentenced to 18 months in prison, the rabbi will serve only five months because he was previously detained.
Meanwhile, Aharon Schwartz, operations officer of the Shuvu Banim yeshiva led by Berland, attacked the conduct of the police on Tuesday morning, and said in a conversation with Golan Yochpaz and Anat Davidov on 103FM radio, that "there is no forensic evidence in the case."
"The situation is not simple," Schwartz said in his opening remarks. "We are dealing with unprecedented attacks of slander and defamation. Earlier, I heard the conversation with the brother of the murdered Sheetrit, and I want to say that everything is speculation."
On the claim that it is not possible that Berland was unaware of what was going on in his community, Schwartz said: "With all due respect this is not proof; you cannot come to the court with a probable assumption. The whole case is based on she said he said and he said the rabbi said. There is no forensic evidence here."