No decision on Leifer until September

July 21, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The long-awaited extradition hearing which, if successful, will see authorities release her from her Israeli prison into Australian police hands and a journey back to Melbourne where she faces 74 charges of child sexual abuse took a few hours in Jerusalem’s District Court yesterday.

Malka Leifer on video link from prison Screenshot

In the 69th hearing of the case, Judge Chana Lomp in the Jerusalem District court explained that her workload prevents hers from handing her decision until September 21st. The case has taken six years to reach this juncture.

Child sexual advocate Manny Waks sat in court laptop at the ready reporting the proceedings.

The defence argued about the statements made by Melbourne sisters Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper claiming they consenting victims.

Manny Waks told Israeli TV stations i24: “It was difficult to listen to some of the claims and arguments the defence were making especially in the context of the potential consent of somehow these underage schoolchildren would have consented to sexual encounters with their school principal…it beggars belief.”

The court heard from Leifer’s defence team headed by Nick Kaufman that she would not get a fair trial in Australia due to the media attention to the case and that she would also be unable to maintain her ultra-orthodox lifestyle. But in 2014 Australian authorities they could accommodate this problem.

Leifer attended the hearing via a videolink from prison. She was excused from participating in the hearing through illness.

This 69th hearing followed a six-year struggle to find Malka Leifer’s inability to attend court through a psychiatric condition being feigned. The District Court found her claims false.

There will be a further appeal hearing on July 29 by her defence in the Supreme Court contesting this decision.

Another appeal made on Sunday by the defence asking for documents relating to statements by sisters Nicole, Dassi and Elly was dismissed.

On the issue of consensual sex brought up by defence lawyer Kaufman, Nicole Meyer told J-Wire:  “It was difficult for my sisters and me to hear the issue of consent. We were warned yesterday they would bring up some things which would be difficult for us to hear. But when it comes to consent, it is very difficult to understand how it is appropriate and relevant to bring up in a courtroom in Israel where the crimes weren’t committed. There is never consent where there is sexual abuse.”

Nicole Meyer and Dassi Erlich

Nicole said the sisters would not have been able to voice their views to counter the suggestion saying “we will have to wait to for our chance in an Australian court”.

The sisters will have to wait for two months to wait for the decision with the appeal by the defence on Leifer’s mental health ahead of it. Nicole added: “We have to go through this first and let’s hope the decision for the appeal will come by September. In the meantime, we are waiting,”

Zionist Federation of Australia President Jeremy Leibler welcomed the commencement of Malka Leifer’s extradition hearing and expressed hope it would be resolved quickly.

“For too long Leifer’s alleged victims have had to wait to see her face justice”, said Mr Leibler. “This extradition hearing took far too long come about. We are extremely disappointed that the judge will not make a decision for two months.”

Leifer’s defence at this hearing must have been extraordinarily hurtful for Dassi, Elly and Nicole. Notwithstanding that these brave women were minors at the time of the alleged offences, Leifer’s legal team admitted they happened but argued they were consensual, something rejected out of hand by the alleged victims (and irrelevant in Australian law).

“We stand with Dassi, Elly and Nicole. Throughout this process, they have exemplified dignity and courage. The appalling treatment meted out to them today by Leifer’s legal team was shameful.”

Peter Wertheim, co-CEO of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry told J-Wire: “It was reprehensible for Leifer’s lawyers to suggest that her alleged victims consented to sexual abuse.  This tactic went well beyond the duty of lawyers to put forward the best possible case for their clients.  It flew in the face of a large volume of uncontradicted evidence of the vulnerability, fear, uncertainty and mental disturbance of Leifer’s alleged victims which was sustained over a period of three years during which the abuse allegedly occurred.”

Leifer fled from Melbourne to Israel in 2008 where she had been principal of the Adass Yisroel school immediately before facing the charges.

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