FOLLOWING a further setback in the case of Malka Leifer this week, concerns have emerged that a demonstration may be held during President Reuven Rivlin’s visit in Australia.
Ahead of Rivlin’s arrival tomorrow (Friday), Israeli news publication Ynet headlined a report on Tuesday with the fear that a demonstration could occur against the President due to the ongoing Leifer case.
The report surfaced less than 24 hours after Jerusalem District Court’s Judge Chana Lomp accepted a request by Leifer’s legal representation that will allow them to bring back two psychologists who previously submitted medical opinions in the case.
Their assessments contradicted the conclusions of a psychiatric panel that found the alleged sexual abuser mentally fit for extradition proceedings. The two psychologists have until next Monday to submit the new psychiatric opinions, and March 12 has been reserved for their cross-examination.
Expected to further draw out the proceedings, the development has been met with disappointment and frustration by Leifer’s alleged victims, sisters Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper.
“We have been patient. We have been calm. We have tried to trust the Israeli court system and understand this takes time. But when we go backwards and repeat a process that has already been endlessly delayed, we have had enough,” they said in a joint statement.
The sisters added, “Can anybody see the sense in this?”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) president Jillian Segal said she is “appalled” by the latest delay.
“The determination by a panel of three court-appointed psychiatrists that Leifer is fit to stand trial was the culmination of more than 30 assessments. There is no conceivable reason why further scrutiny of Leifer’s mental state should be necessary,” she said.
Empathising with the “further trauma” such a delay causes Leifer’s accusers, “who have already suffered so greatly”, Segal charged, this “delays the delivery of justice”.
“We stand in solidarity with the victims and repeat our call for the immediate extradition of Malka Leifer.”
While Erlich, Meyer and Sapper were yet to receive a response to their request to meet with Rivlin while in Australia as of Wednesday, when probed on the Leifer case by The AJN, Rivlin affirmed, “The professional opinion of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the State Prosecutor’s Office is that the extradition should be carried out as soon as possible and are doing everything possible to expedite it.”
Rivlin is scheduled for several communal appearances during his time in Australia, including speaking as the guest of honour at United Israel Appeal’s (UIA) centenary gala event in Sydney on Sunday evening, and Melbourne the following night.
In an unprecedented intervention on the eve of UIA’s major annual campaign, UIA federal president Lance Rosenberg emphasised, “The accusations against Malka Leifer are incredibly serious and must be tested in an Australian court to ensure justice for the alleged victims.
“We are disappointed with the recent decision to allow the defence psychiatrists to give evidence again and, whilst we respect proper legal process, urge the Israeli authorities, in the strongest possible terms, to ensure she is returned to Australia immediately.
“We join with all reasonable Australians and Israelis in calling on the judicial system in Israel to move as quickly as possible to resolve this saga which has gone on for far too long.”
The trial resumes on Wednesday and Thursday, when three members of a psychiatric panel, who had previously determined that Leifer was feigning mental illness, will be cross-examined.