PM keeps his date with Dassi

September 29, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
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Dassi Erlich met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Melbourne today to discuss her campaign t0 fight for the extradition of Malka Leifer to Australia to face 74 criminal charges for alleged sexual abuse of school children under her care while she was the headmistress of the Adass Israel School in Melbourne prior to her sudden departure for Israel in 2008.

Elly Sapper, Dassi Ehrlich, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Ted Baillieu

Melbourne-based-based Dassi Erlich will travel to Israel next month to continue her campaign.

A survivor of the abuse, Dassi has set up meetings set up with Knesset members, Jewish community leader and Organisations and media. Up until now, legal attempts to have Leifer extradited have hit a wall with an Israeli court has ruled that Leifer needed to undergo psychiatric treatment…a process which could last ten years.

Melbourne-based Dassi Ehrlich turned to The Executive Council of Australian Jewry for assistance with the organisation’s president Anton Block and executive director Peter Wertheim agreeing to write to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to make him fully aware of the case and to set up a meeting for the Prime Minister with Dassi.

The meeting took place this morning in Melbourne.

Dassi Erlich wrote in a Facebook page set up for he campaign: “Positive meeting with the PM! Elly Sapper and I felt assured that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will do everything he can to help move this case forward while he is in Israel. So encouraging!

Thank you to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry – ECAJ for organizing this meeting and Ted Baillieu for accompanying us.

Another milestone reached. Israel next!”

Peter Wertheim told J-Wire: “Former Adass Israel school student Dassi Erlich met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today.  I met with Dassi in our Sydney office in August.  She asked the ECAJ to support her campaign to have the former school headmistress, Malka Leifer, extradited from Israel to Australia to face criminal charges relating to child sexual abuse.  She also asked the ECAJ to help her to meet Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.  We readily agreed to her requests, and were honoured to help her set up her meeting today with the Australian Prime Minister.

We commend Prime Minister Turnbull for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with Dassi and to hear her story first hand.  We are confident that he will raise the matter with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visits Israel next month for the centenary of the battle of Beersheva.”

Elly Sapper is a fellow survivor and Ted Baillieu is a former Victorian premier who has been very supportive.

In the letter to Malcolm Turnbull on September 19, ECAJ wrote:

“Dear Prime Minister

Australian application for extradition from Israel of Malka Leifer

Malka Leifer

We have been following with concern the lack of progress in Australia’s application to Israel for the extradition of Malka Leifer to face criminal charges over her alleged sexual abuse of school children under her care while she was the headmistress of the Adass Israel School in Melbourne prior to her sudden departure for Israel in 2008.

Although not admissible in any criminal proceedings, there were findings made against Ms Leifer in the Supreme Court of Victoria to the effect that she sexually abused one of her pupils, Dassi Erlich, over a period of approximately three years between 2003 and 2006: Erlich v Leifer & Anor [2015] VSC 499 (16 September 2015), bin/viewdoc/au/cases/vic/VSC/2015/499.html

In the words of Justice Rush in those proceedings [at para 74 of the Judgment]:

“The plaintiff [Dassi Erlich] was extremely vulnerable. That the sexual abuse occurred under the guise of Jewish education by the headmistress of the School and person in charge of Jewish Studies makes the breach of trust associated with the abuse monstrous.”

Australia’s application to Israel to extradite Malka Leifer came before the Jerusalem District Court in 2016. On 2 June 2016, Judge Amnon Cohen ruled that Australia’s extradition application cannot proceed at this time, after he accepted a report from the district psychiatrist which concluded that Ms Leifer is not mentally fit to face an extradition trial. He ordered Ms Leifer to undergo psychiatric treatment in Israel as an outpatient before her fitness to stand trial can again be assessed. The court ruled that such treatment might go on for up to 10 years.

Most controversially, the Judge also ruled that while Ms Leifer is undergoing treatment, the previous court order placing her under home detention will be suspended. This means that she will be at liberty to come into contact with other children in Israel.

Israel’s State prosecutor sought to overturn this aspect of Judge Amnon’s ruling in a further hearing on 7 June 2016, but was unsuccessful. In fact Judge Amnon ordered that the bail money of NIS 100,000 which had been paid by Ms Leifer be returned to her.

We fully understand that it would be improper for the executive arm of government in Israel to over-ride the judicial process, and we make no request that it do so. We also understand that, in terms of the independence of its judiciary and the quality of its jurisprudence, the Israeli justice system is the equal of that of Australia, the UK and the EU countries. However, this does not mean that it is immune to error.

It is matter of concern to the entire Jewish community that Malka Leifer is at large in Israel, and children with whom she may come in contact remain at risk of suffering sexual abuse by her. By exposing any children to that risk, it appears to many people, including Israel’s numerous friends in Australia, that Judge Amnon was in error. There is the additional risk that some of the survivors of Ms Leifer’s alleged abuse will suffer re-traumatisation as a consequence of Ms Leifer being allowed to remain at liberty.

Throughout the Jewish community in Australia, and not only among the survivors of Ms Leifer’s alleged abuse, there is frustration with the continuing delay in bringing Ms Leifer to face serious criminal charges in Australia, and deep concern that she has been allowed to walk free for an indefinite period while she undergoes psychiatric treatment.

Dassi Erlich has now commenced a public campaign in Australia and Israel to advocate in favour of the immediate extradition of Ms Leifer to Australia. We met with Ms Erlich recently and she has asked us to convey two requests to you on her behalf:

  1. That before she departs for Israel on October 22, she meets with you and, if possible, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, to share her perspectives and discuss her campaign; and
  2. That you raise the Leifer extradition matter with the Israeli Prime Minister while you are in Israel in October-November for the centenary of the battle for Beersheba in World War I .

We fully support these requests and look forward to hearing from you.”


2 Responses to “PM keeps his date with Dassi”
  1. Liat Kirby says:

    Dassi Erlich is a brave young woman and i do hope that Malka Leifer is brought to Australia as soon as possible to face trial on charges made against her. That Judge Amnon has ruled against extradition, using necessary psychiatric treatment as the reason, is more than disappointing, and one can only wonder at the motivation behind the decision.. If Ms Leifer is so mentally unwell, surely she should be institutionalised instead of at large in the community, where more damage can be done.

    Shame on all those in Melbourne who were involved in assisting Leifer to leave the country as quickly as she did.

  2. Adrian Jackson says:

    Israel should allow this “pedophile” teachers extradition to Australia.

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