Australia welcomes Leifer decision

May 27, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Australian Government has welcomed the decision in Israel that Malka Leifer is fit to stand trial and be extradited to Australia.

Australia’s ambassador to Israel Chris Cannan, Christian Porter and child
sexual abuse advocate Manny Waks in Israel

Attorney-General, Christian Porter, said this was positive news adding, “Whilst today’s decision can be appealed, it is a positive sign and means that formal extradition proceedings can now lawfully commence, subject to any orders relevant to any possible appeal.

The allegations against Ms Leifer are very serious and the Australian Government remains strongly committed to ensuring that justice is served in this case. To achieve that, it is appropriate and remains the Government’s strong view that Ms Leifer is ultimately extradited to stand trial in Australia on the 74 counts of child sexual abuse against her and I travelled to Israel last year to make that case to Israel’s Attorney-General.

At this time, the thoughts of the Australian Government are very much with alleged victims and hopefully, this positive development will give them some confidence that proceedings in Israel are moving towards their aim of seeing proceedings commence in Australia within the Australian justice system.”

The Attorney-General said he respected Israel’s judicial processes and that, given today’s judgement could be the subject of an appeal, it would not be appropriate to comment further.

Labor also welcomed the Israeli court decision.

Mark Dreyfus

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said: “While there are still a number of legal hurdles remaining, this decision is a tribute to the courage of Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper in their long pursuit of justice.

This decision is long overdue. It’s now been 12 years since Ms Leifer fled Australia to avoid charges of child sex abuse.

Rather than stand trial in Melbourne for the crimes she is accused of Malka Leifer fled from accountability, she fled from justice and 12 years later, she remains in Israel, a fugitive from justice to this day.

Australia first requested the extradition of Malka Leifer in 2014 and it has taken six years and 67 court hearings to determine that she is fit to return to Australia and stand trial.

The ongoing anxiety and stress these delays caused to those she is accused of abusing demonstrate the truth of the legal maximum ‘justice delayed is justice denied’.

We now urge Israel to bring an end to pain and suffering caused by this saga, and ensure Ms Leifer is extradited to Australia to face trial for her alleged crimes.”

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry said: “The ruling by the Jerusalem District Court that Malka Leifer is mentally fit to stand trial marks a long-awaited and long-overdue milestone in the quest to bring her to face justice in Australia.

Six years after Australia applied to extradite her, there are still legal hurdles to overcome.  The extradition hearing itself will now have to proceed in Israel and there will also be rights of appeal.   If the Israeli courts ultimately permit her extradition, there may be complications in transporting her to Australia due to the pandemic.  For far too long justice has been delayed and denied for Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer, Elly Sapper and Malka Leifer’s other alleged victims.  We have moved closer to that goal, but we are not there yet.

Throughout the Jewish community in Australia, and in the wider community, the latest court decision will be welcomed. It hopefully marks the end of the scandalous manoeuvrings that have marred the judicial process in Israel in this case: the unexplained reversals of testimony by Jerusalem District Psychiatrist Jacob Charnes about Malka Leifer’s mental fitness; the recommendation by Israeli police that Yaakov Litzman be charged with manipulating psychiatric evidence in the case while he was Israel’s Deputy Health Minister; the evidence that Malka Leifer has been malingering; and the seemingly never-ending rounds of psychiatric assessments.

Despite all the previous missteps and unwarranted delays, there is now optimism that justice will ultimately be done in this case.

The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council also welcomed the decision by the Israeli court.
 
AIJAC stated: “The news that Malka Leifer is one step closer to returning to Australia is above all a testament to the tenacity, strength and courage of Dassi Erlich and her sisters Nicole Meyer and Elie Sapper, whose demand that justice be done has received widespread support and admiration both here and in Israel.
 
We are however disappointed that Malka Leifer has been granted yet another extension of time, meaning her extradition hearing will be held on July 20, almost two months away.
 
After years and years of delay and, allegedly, improper and unacceptable political interference, the sooner Malka Leifer is brought back to Melbourne to face justice, the better.”

The National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (Vic) also welcomed the Israeli District Court’s momentous decision.

They stated Leifer: “Protracted legal proceedings and evasion of an extradition hearing based on Leifer’s mental state has so far denied her accusers access to justice and closure of their painful experiences.

This decision marks an important milestone in the case against Leifer. We hope that the judicial proceedings against her continue without any further unnecessary delays. NCJWA Vic has proudly supported Dassi Erlich in her campaign to #bringleiferback and urge that Leifer be extradited to Australia to face the charges against her as a matter of urgency.”

The Zionist Federation of Australia commented yesterday.

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