Malka Leifer, Deemed Unfit To Stand Extradition Trial By Israeli Judge

Extradition proceedings against an Australian woman accused of sexually abusing students at an ultra-Orthodox girls’ school were halted Sunday, after a judge in Israel ruled her unfit to stand trial.

The move imposes a significant delay on an already-prolonged effort to extradite Malka Leifer, a former headmistress at Adass Israel School, who stands to face 74 counts of indecent assault and rape in Australia, brought against her by three former students of the school, located in the Melbourne suburb of Elsternwick.

Using her Israeli passport, Leifer fled to Israel in 2008, shortly after the allegations of sexual misconduct arose. She was taken into custody in Israel in 2014 at the request of Australian authorities, and released to house arrest in September that year.

Extradition proceedings were meant to begin the following month, but have been delayed some eight times, including for Leifer’s psychiatric hospitalization.

At a hearing Sunday morning at the Jerusalem District Court, Judge Amnon Cohen said that after having received the “unequivocal professional opinion” from a state-appointed psychiatrist, the sides have agreed to halt extradition proceedings against Leifer, citing a law that permits stopping proceedings when a defendant is deemed unfit to stand trial.

The prosecution and defense agreed that a request should be made of the Jerusalem district psychiatrist to recommend a course of treatment for Leifer, and that the extradition proceedings should be halted until such time that she has recovered.

The psychiatrist may propose one of three options: hospitalization, treatment as an outpatient, or no treatment.

He has until May 29 to make a recommendation, and on June 2, Judge Cohen will rule which course of treatment Leifer will receive.

Prosecutor Avital Ribner-Oron told the court on Sunday that hospitalization would ensure the defendant receives the “the best and most efficient treatment necessary to return her to a state of being fit and able to face the extradition proceedings.”

James McGarry, Australia’s deputy ambassador to Israel, who attended Sunday’s hearing, told TOT that the Australian government has a keen interest in monitoring the progress of this case.

Israel’s Justice Ministry, for its part, told TOT that Israeli authorities are making every effort to secure Leifer’s extradition to Australia, due to the bilateral extradition treaty between the two countries.

Meanwhile, Manny Waks, an Australian advocate for child sexual abuse victims, told TOT that he has been in touch with some of Leifer’s accusers and they are “having trouble eating, sleeping and concentrating on other matters.”

“It’s a great shame that this matter has not yet been resolved and that it will still not be resolved for some time to come,” Waks said.

Leifer is currently residing in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak, under constant supervision and with an electronic monitoring device affixed to her at all times.

1 reply
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    EXTRADITION proceedings against a fugitive school principal accused of molesting and raping students at an ultra-orthodox Jewish school have been dropped.

    In a major blow to Victorian authorities an Israeli court ruled overnight that it would suspend extradition hearings against Malka Leifer because she is unfit to stand trial.

    It means the former principal of Elsternwick’s Adass Israel Girls School may never face justice.

    Authorities have been fighting for her return to Victoria since 2014, but Ms Leifer has told family and friends she would never return to Australia.

    She fled under the cover of night just days after one of her alleged victims spoke out about her abuse for the first time in 2008.

    Some school officials helped organise Ms Leifer’s escape.

    Since extraditions proceedings commenced, Ms Leifer has missed all seven hearings in the Jerusalem District Court.

    After suspending the extradition proceedings, Justice Amnon Cohen ordered another psychiatric evaluation of Mrs Leifer to consider further treatment.

    Proceedings could continue if a government-appointed review board rules her psychological state has improved.

    Victims’ rights advocates slammed the decision.

    “Either Leifer is well enough to face justice or she is hospitalised until she is ready to do so,” Manny Waks said.

    Mr Waks, himself a sexual abuse victim, is the founder of Kol v’Oz, an Israeli organization that addresses the issue of child sexual abuse within Jewish communities around the world.

    “There should be no alternative. This case has dragged on for far too long and we need some finality,” he said.

    “We need to put the interests and wellbeing of the alleged victims ahead of the interests and wellbeing of the alleged perpetrator.”

    Ms Leifer, a mother of eight, has been publicly accused of molesting a string of girls, including three sisters.

    Last year the Supreme Court of Victoria awarded one of the girls $1 million in damages over the abuse.

    The windfall is believed to be the single biggest payout to a Victorian victim of child sexual abuse.

    Former Supreme Court judge Justice Jack Rush today described Ms Leifer’s breach of trust as “monstrous” and ordered she personally pay $150,000 in damages to the former student.

    “The evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that the conduct of Leifer was committed in circumstances of contumelious disregard of the plaintiff,” he said.

    “I have described Leifer’s conduct previously as a massive breach of trust, yet this description does not adequately set out the destructive and evil nature of her sexual abuse of the plaintiff.

    “The evidence discloses the sole motivation of Leifer in her dealings with the plaintiff was her own sexual gratification.

    “Leifer used her position of power and authority within the school to manipulate the plaintiff’s sense of vulnerability.”

    Justice Rush also slammed the school’s board for its co-operation in helping Ms Leifer flee Australia and avoid facing justice.

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