Malka Leifer: bail refused

June 14, 2018 by Andrew Friedman - TPS
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The Jerusalem District Court rejected a request by defence attorneys to release Malka Leifer, the former principal of an ultra-Orthodox high school for girls in Melbourne, Australia on bail.

Malka Leifer in court June 14 Photo: Hillel Maeir/TPS

Judge Avigdor Dorot, an on-duty judge filling in to hear the request in place of Judge Hannah Lomp, the presiding judge in the case who is on vacation until the beginning of July, dismissed the case until June 20, next Wednesday and ruled that Leifer would remain at the Neve Tirza women’s prison pending a formal hearing on the request for bail.

On May 31, Judge Lomp ordered Leifer to undergo a psychiatric evaluation by the Jerusalem district psychiatrist and said she would remain in custody during that process, to be completed by the first week of July. Subsequently, however, defense attorneys and family members claimed that Leifer’s medical condition had worsened in recent weeks and that she was in urgent need of psychiatric care outside of prison.

The tension of that request was clear on the faces of Leifer’s defense team, but prosecutors, who pleaded with Dorot to hear their appeal as soon as possible, even asking for an after-hours session. At the hastily arranged hearing attended by officials from the Australian embassy, Leifer’s brother, victims’ support groups and Australian-Israelis who said they were attending the session “to show support for the victims,” the defendant was led into court in shackles and handcuffs, placed her head on the defendant’s box and played no role in the proceedings.

Leifer is wanted in Australia on 74 counts of sexual abuse dating to her time as headmistress of the ultra-Orthodox Adass Israel school from 2001-2008. She fled the country, allegedly with the assistance of members of the insular community, as news surfaced that Melbourne police had asked the court for an arrest warrant, and moved to the haredi town of Emmanuel, in Samaria. Since Australia filed a request for extradition in 2014, defense attorneys have argued consistently that she is not mentally stable enough to stand trial. In June, 2016 a court-appointed psychiatrist accepted the claim, Leifer was released from custody and extradition proceedings were halted.

Those proceedings were renewed in February, 2018, when an undercover investigation revealed that Leifer was apparently leading a functional, normative life. She was re-arrested, charged with obstruction of justice, and extradition proceedings began anew.

Following the hearing, defence attorney Yehuda Fried accused the prosecution of withholding evidence, and stressed that even the evidence he has seen does not indicate that Leifer was faking her illness to avoid extradition.

“The ‘evidence’, such as it is, is a farce,” Fried told Tazpit Press Service after the hearing. “On the most basic level – the prosecution has mis-identified people in the videos and phone recordings they’ve submitted. They aren’t giving us the evidence because they know there is simply nothing there.

Prosecutor Matan Akiva responded, saying that the material was complicated enough that it could not be provided to defense lawyers without first being reviewed.

Dorot also rejected a defense request to allow Leifer not to attend the hearing because she was in the midst of a psychotic episode and had spent the morning lying on the cement floor of her holding cell in the basement of the court building.

Comments

3 Responses to “Malka Leifer: bail refused”
  1. Pamela Tee says:

    So maybe all criminals should lie on concrete floors to avoid trial? This is a travesty of justice, a shameful charade. This woman is manipulating the courts the way she manipulated her victims. At the very least, place her in a psychiatric hospital under lock and key until she is “fit” to be tried. At least she will not be out and about and able to offend again. This has gone on far too long. An embarrassment to the justice system. My heart aches for the victims.

  2. Liat Kirby says:

    This is becoming untenable, in fact turning into a farce. If Leifer is so unwell mentally (and deteriorating as her defence lawyer would have it), she should be found to be so in court and spend her time in a psychiatric institution, or if found guilty sent to prison, and that should be decided in Australia. Simple as that. The longer this goes on the more the veracity of the Jerusalem court comes into question and the lives of the victims remain suspended.

  3. Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

    It would be a fundamental travesty of justice if the accused is not extradited to Australia in the near future to stand trial.
    The Israeli judical system is now itself under scrutiny.
    The victims deserve better from the courts in Jerusalem.

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