Court postpones Malka Leifer’s extradition to Australia, appoints panel to rule on her mental health

September 23, 2019 by Arye Green -TPS
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The Jerusalem District Court on Monday decided to appoint an expert panel to rule on whether or not alleged sex offender Malka Leifer is fit to be extradited to Australia.

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

The extradition process will be postponed to a later date, after six years of legal proceedings against the alleged pedophile.

Malka Leifer, an Australian and former Ultra-Orthodox girls’ school principal, is charged in her country with dozens of cases of child abuse. Leifer fled from Australia to Israel in 2008 following allegations that she had sexually abused her students at the Adass Yisroel school in Melbourne on 74 different occasions.

Last month, the police recommended indicting Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman on accounts of aiding the alleged sex offender. Litzman is suspected of attempting to manipulate Leifer’s psychiatric evaluation to deem her mentally unfit to be extradited to Australia.

In July, the medical committee on Leifer’s mental health has come to the conclusion that she is faking a mental illness, and can be extradited to Australia. The committee also suspected that documents they received from the Israel Prison Service (IPS) regarding Leifer were faked, and sent them to the police for investigation.

Different psychiatric experts have offered contradicting opinions on Leifer’s condition. The experts summoned by the Police and the Attorney’s Office said she is fit for extradition, while private experts on behalf of the defence claimed she eas unfit for extradition.

Judge Chana Miriam Lomp decided that an expert panel be appointed, as the information and evidence in the case are contradictory. The panel will include psychiatric experts appointed by the court and will submit a definitive conclusion on whether or not Leifer is mentally fit for extradition.

Nicole Erlich, one of Leifer’s alleged victims, said victims were disappointed and were hoping for a better outcome from the court. “We were really hoping the beginning of the extradition process would begin today,” she said, adding that the legal process “has taken an extreme toll on our mental and emotional health.”

Nicole and her two sisters, who are also alleged victims, have issued a statement regarding the injustice of the legal process thus far.

“5 years, 57 court hearings and over 30 psychiatrists have been involved in determining if Malka Leifer can understand her charges. How is this not enough? How many more psychiatrists need to weigh in? How much more emotional pain? We are defeated but we will not give up,” they wrote.

Victims’ rights advocate Manny Waks added that the court’s decision “represents yet another unacceptable delay.”

“Today’s decision adds to the unnecessary pain and suffering of Leifer’s alleged victims who continue to await justice and be frustrated by the inefficiency of the Israeli justice system and the alleged corruption within its government,” Waks said.

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