Ex Melbourne Principal Facing Sex Abuse Claims, Malka Leifer, Suffering Psychosis, Lawyer Says

A PRINCIPAL accused of molesting students at an ultra-orthodox Jewish school has claimed through her lawyer she is psychotic in her latest attempt to fight her extradition to Melbourne.

Authorities are working to force Malka Leifer’s return from Israel amid accusations she sexually assaulted a string of teen girls while principal at Adass Israel School in Elsternwick.

She is currently under house arrest while extradition proceedings continue at the request of Victoria Police who have indicated she could face criminal charges.

Almost a year after being arrested in Israel, lawyers for Mrs Leifer, who has vowed to never return to Melbourne, now claim she is psychotic and unfit to face court.

Mrs Leifer was expected to appear at the Jerusalem District Court overnight but failed to attend because of ill health.

Lawyer Yehuda Fried said the extradition was “only at the beginning” and said his client pledged to drag the case out.

Mr Fried said his Mrs Leifer had been hospitalised multiple times for “psychosis” and said she had been deemed mentally ill by several psychologists.

“We cannot even begin to talk about this until my client is healthy enough to attend court,” Mr Fried told the Herald Sun outside court.

“But even when the district court eventually hands down a decision, we’ve got the Supreme Court (to appeal to), and eventually we can turn to the justice minister, who is required to sign all extradition orders.”

In a move to expedite proceedings prosecutors have called for future hearings to be held at Mrs Leifer’s home, or hospital.

They have also flagged the possibility of medical treatment ahead of future court dates to prevent psychotic attacks.

And they have called for the potential for Mrs Leifer to be returned to full police custody.

“The decision for Australian authorities is not whether or not (Mrs Leifer) is capable of withstanding an extradition hearing. This is not Australia’s concern,” the prosecutor told the court.

“(But as for the) question about whether Australia wants (Leifer to) return, even if the process takes a long time, the answer is yes,” she said.

In a scathing attack Mr Fried accused the prosecution of withholding documents and of “untoward… unethical and illegal behaviour”.

But he refused to respond to rumours that his legal fees are being paid by members of the ultra-Orthodox community, rather than by the Leifer family.

Mrs Leifer, who was based in Melbourne between 2001 and 2008, fled to Israel just hours after allegations of sexual assaults were made public.

School officials failed to report the allegations to police but instead helped Ms Leifer flee to Israel.

The matter will return to court on October 26.

1 reply
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    A former principal accused of molesting students at an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school in Melbourne has had her extradition hearing to Australia delayed.

    Malka Leifer fled to Israel just hours after allegations of sexual abuse at the Adass Israel School in Elsternwick first surfaced in 2008, and has been there ever since.

    It is understood Ms Leifer could face dozens of charges of indecent assault and rape if she ever returns to Melbourne.

    We don’t think that Israel should be a country of refuge for suspects of child sex abuse, paedophiles.
    Dr Yitzhak Kadman, National Council for the Child
    Ms Leifer was first placed under house arrest in Israel last September but nearly a year later there still has not been an initial hearing on her extradition petition.

    On Wednesday, her lawyers successfully argued in a Jerusalem court for yet another delay to her case, claiming she is suffering from “psychosis and stress”.

    Lawyer Yehuda Fried denied dragging the case out.

    “I don’t accept the word excuses. We are conducting a court procedure,” he said outside the court.

    “The Israeli law confirms that anyone in a psychotic state cannot be subject to legal proceedings.”

    He told reporters he was willing to spend years fighting the extradition and would appeal all the way up to the Israeli High court and Minister for Justice if necessary.

    Attorney-General George Brandis’s department said in statement: “Australia made a request to Israel for Ms Leifer’s extradition as she is wanted to face prosecution in Victoria for 74 sexual assault offences.

    “As the matter remains before the courts in Israel, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

    Activist alleges pressure to keep case quiet

    Abuse whistleblower Manny Waks is visiting Israel to bring attention to the issue of child sexual abuse in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities.

    He said he was dismayed the extradition process was taking so long.

    “I’ve been in contact with a number of complainants in this case and its something I know they are taking in a very difficult way,” he said.

    Dr Yitzhak Kadman, the executive director of Israeli children’s right advocacy organisation National Council for the Child, said he believed Ms Leifer had “very good lawyers”.

    Dr Kadman said he was worried Israel’s powerful ultra-Orthodox community was protecting Ms Leifer and helping to fund her legal case.

    “We are aware of how many people tried to create pressure on this case. We think she is well connected. The prosecutor has told us, without getting into details, that there was a lot of pressure not to even release her name,” he told the ABC.

    “We don’t think that Israel should be a country of refuge for suspects of child sex abuse, paedophiles.”

    In a statement the Israeli ministry of justice told the ABC: “There has been a number of delays to this case caused by the defendant. The Ministry of Justice is doing everything it can to move this case along.”

    Ms Leifer’s case has been adjourned until October 26.

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