THERE was more heartbreak for Malka Leifer’s accusers this week, when a judge failed to order extradition proceedings, and ordered new psychiatric tests instead.
When Chana Lomp took the bench in Jerusalem on Monday, it was expected to be a decisive moment. Leifer’s accusers hoped the judge would accept state prosecutors’ arguments that she has faked mental illness to avoid an extradition hearing, and set a hearing.
As Lomp ordered a new three-expert panel to report to her in December, in Australia Dassi Erlich and her two sisters were incredulous. The court hearing they had been anticipating for months became an anticlimax. Erlich asked, “How many more psychiatrists need to weigh in? How much more emotional pain?
“We feel defeated but we will not give up.” She noted that the case has already spanned five years, 57 court hearings and involved more than 30 psychiatrists.
Erlich felt concern as well as disappointment, after Leifer’s lawyer Yehuda Fried said that he is filing a new application for bail. She is concerned that Fried, who has proposed bail before, may succeed this time.
Manny Waks, the Australian-Israeli abuse survivor who runs the Kol v’Oz organisation said that he is “concerned and alarmed” that she may go free.
Outside the courtroom, Shanna Aaronson of Jewish Community Watch told The AJN she was “devastated”. Waks spoke of his “deep disappointment”.
Some activists for Leifer’s extradition, while dismayed about the further delay and the possibility of bail, say that there is a positive development.
Jerusalem’s Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, an activist for Leifer’s extradition, believes that the judge was trying to sidestep the scandal that surrounds the case so she can restore the credibility of psychiatrists and reach a decision.
There was no mention in court of the scandal that has been whirling around the case since police recommended corruption charges against Yaakov Litzman, Deputy Health Minister.
Police officers suspect that he tried to “improperly influence” state psychiatrists who have played a key part in slowing down the extradition case against Leifer.
Hassan-Nahoum told The AJN she believes Lomp is convening the new panel as a way of distancing the case from scandal and enabling it to move forward. She said: “I am 100 per cent sure that the judge knows what’s going on outside of court and therefore we have to start a clean page. This panel will be the clean page.”
Leifer is accused of 74 counts of child sexual abuse in Melbourne when she was the principal of the Adass Israel School.