Ultra-Orthodox mayor arrested in connection with two unsolved murders

Authorities suspect that the hasidic sect Shuvu Banim, led by convicted sex offender rabbi Eliezer Berland, was involved in the crimes.

Rabbi Eliezer Berland (left), a convicted sex offender. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Rabbi Eliezer Berland (left), a convicted sex offender.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The ultra-Orthodox mayor of an unnamed city was arrested by police on Sunday in connection with the suspected murder of Nissim Shitrit, 17, in 1986, and the murder of Avi Edri, 41, in 1990.

The authorities suspect that the hasidic sect Shuvu Banim, led by convicted sex offender rabbi Eliezer Berland, was involved in the crimes, according to Israeli media.

Berland was already serving a prison sentence after he defrauded some of his followers. He had also previously admitted he raped a member of the sect, according to Ynet.

Earlier on Sunday, Jerusalem Magistrate's Court extended Berland's imprisonment after he implicated himself in the cold cases. Police suspect that he ordered the murders, Israel Hayom reported.

Shortly before his disappearance, Shitrit was kidnapped from his yeshiva in Ashdod and beaten by a mishmeret tzniyut, (modesty enforcers) who warned him not to go out with girls, according to Israel Hayom.

Rabbi Eliezer Berland's followers outside the court Friday July 28, 2016 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)Rabbi Eliezer Berland's followers outside the court Friday July 28, 2016 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Also on Sunday, police stated that the investigation involving Shitrit was almost complete but that the investigation involving Edri is still ongoing, according to Haaretz.