Rabbi granted bail

By Dana Gloger, May 30, 2008
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A Charedi rabbi was granted bail on appeal at London’s High Court last week, after he was originally denied it by magistrates.

The American government is seeking to extradite Avrum Friesel, 55, on 19 fraud charges, allegedly committed in late 1980s and early 1990s. The charges relate to his time as town clerk of New Square Town in New York, a Chasidic community of the Skverer sect.

He moved to Stamford Hill, London, in 1999, and was arrested in April this year.

Although the strictly Orthodox community has put up over £1 million of sureties, Rabbi Friesel was denied bail by Westminster Magistrates last month. The prosecution argued that he might abscond if bailed and suggested that the Stamford Hill community had knowingly protected him.

His barristers, Gary Grant and Jonathan Goldberg QC, argued that the sureties had been offered by independent people who did not know of his past. They said they had received many letters from people in the Charedi community, including Rabbi Avraham Pinter, attesting to Rabbi Friesel’s good character and his teaching work with disabled children.

Mr Goldberg said: “It is an extraordinary story, which has echoes of Jean Valjean and Les Miserables, in the way he has come into a strange community and achieved such a good reputation despite his hidden past.”

    Last updated: 3:26pm, March 2 2009