Home » General » Fugitive Israeli Rabbi Sentenced, Deportation Follows

FUGITIVE Israeli priest, Eliezer Berland (77), who was Tuesday convicted for violating the Zimbabwe’s immigration laws, has been slapped with a three month prison sentence by Bulawayo senior magistrate Sibongile Msipa.

But the embattled but wealthy Rabbi was likely not to go to prison as the sentence had the option of a $200 fine.

In her ruling, the magistrate also ordered his immediate deportation, either soon after the completion of his jail sentence or after paying the fine.

Berland, who back home is facing several allegations of rape and sexual harassment, was arrested while holed up at a Bulawayo hotel and was charged with contravening a section of the country’s immigration Act.

The law forbids “entering or remaining in the country without visitors entry certificate and remaining in the country”.

Berland was arrested from his hideout at Bulawayo’s Holiday Inn hotel by detectives from the Joshua Mqabuko Border Control, who were acting on a tip-off by unnamed citizens who had discovered he had overstayed in Zimbabwe.

His lawyer, Sindiso Mazibisa of Cheda and Partners said he was not happy with the sentence, arguing the offence was minor and could easily have been resolved between his client and the immigration officials without going through the humiliation of trial.

In mitigation, Mazibisa also submitted that his client was an internationally recognised religious leader of ill-health who was on medication.

He further said Berland well a married father of six who had refrained from committing any other crime during his stay in Zimbabwe.

The fugitive rabbi is reportedly wanted by Israeli police who want him to respond to allegations of rape and sexual abuse on his several female followers.

Berland arrived in Zimbabwe November last year under the guise of religious tourism and has been living in various upmarket city lodges and hotels.

He also been leading worship in a synagogue in Khumalo suburb.

Source : New Zimbabwe