Beitar Illit Mayor Released over Cold Case Murder

On Tuesday, Meir Rubinstein, the Mayor of Beiter Illit, was named as one of the suspects first arrested and then released later in a murder investigation related to rabbi Eliezer Berland. He belonged to the Shuvu Bonim sect and is a sex offender. 41-year old Avi Edri was beaten to death in the north of Jerusalem in the Ramot Forest in 1990 and no one has been indicted for the murder. The mayor denied any involvement in the murder and also attempted to prevent his name from being published. Rubinstein claimed that he had been 17 year old at the time of the murder, which meant he was a minor. 

According to the mayor’s lawyers, he was innocent of the crime and there would be ‘severe damage’ to his reputation if his name was published. However, on Tuesday, a Supreme Court judge ruled that the mayor’s name could be published. Justice Yosef Elron, who made the decision, said that his name should be published because of the nature of the case in which he is a suspect and the fact that they are still conducting an investigation. He also noted that Rubinstein’s name had already been publicized. He had been detained as a suspect on November 22nd and had remained in custody on December 2nd

A police representative said in the initial remand hearing that the suspect had been acting with others in an operation that eventually led to Edri’s murder. They went on to add that the defendant had also been directly involved in the murder. During the hearing, the judge said that Rubinstein had dressed up as a woman and was driving the vehicle leading a convoy, which brought Edri to the murder location. According to the media, the mayor had been dressed as a woman for luring Edri. There were a number of other suspects waiting for their arrival and at Berland’s direction, they had beaten Edri to death. 

It was reported that Edri had been castrated on Berland’s orders. Another suspect in the murder had recently died in the northern hospital due to complications from the coronavirus. Earlier this month, charges had been brought against two men over the murder of a teenager in 1986, who was also linked to the sect. The case had heated up back in mid-October when a series of arrests were made. The police has questioned dozens of people in the investigation of the two homicides, which include many who are connected to national and local politics. 

Former minister Rehavam Ze’evi’s son, Binyamin Ze’evi, along with Baruch Sharvit, a follower of Shuvu Bonim, were indicted of the murder of 17 year old Nissim Shitrit. His body has never been discovered and these were the first charges to be made for his death. Earlier this month, Berland had been released from remand after being detained in connection with the two homicides. He has been accused of sending his followers for murdering Shitrit as well. While he has been released in connection to the murders, he will serve time in prison for swindling elderly and sick followers. 

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