MALKA Leifer could be on a plane to Australia by mid-2020, according to the former chief of Israel’s extradition department.
Gal Levertov believes that if the court finds the former principal of Melbourne’s Adass Israel school fit to face extradition proceedings at a December 10 hearing, then her lawyers will spend six months appealing to the Supreme Court, but if that fails everything will happen very quickly.
He predicted that the actual extradition proceedings would be quick and involve just one or two court dates, and stressed that Leifer’s innocence or guilt does not play a part in the extradition process.
“If everything is handled as it should be, it’ll be around a month,” he said. “If the judge will decide, based on the special committee of expert psychiatrists, that she isn’t mentally ill or that her mental illness doesn’t prevent her from understanding the legal proceedings and cooperating with her attorneys, she’s going to be extradited at the end of the process.”
He said if Leifer loses those extradition proceedings, she would be on a plane to Australia within a month.
The former principal faces 74 charges of child sexual abuse in Victoria.
Levertov headed the Israeli Justice Ministry’s International Department, which handles all extradition requests, until just before the “frustrating” Leifer case began.
He wrote his masters thesis on crime and mental illness, a subject that has come to dominate the Leifer case, and more recently published Criminals Without Borders, an insider’s account of extradition operations.
While he expects to see Leifer leave Israel, he said that political pressure, seen recently even from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, isn’t helping.
He said that there is “always noise” surrounding cases and recognises that leaders are expected to make such statements but they won’t impact proceedings at this stage.
Levertov was optimistic that Leifer’s accusers will see her stand trial in Australia.
“In the eight years I headed the department we lost one case,” he said, adding that his predecessor also lost just one extradition case.
A handful of other suspects who tried to avoid extradition in the last few years on psychiatric grounds all failed, he said.
Australian activists have sharply criticised the Israeli legal system for its handling of the Leifer case.
Levertov shares concerns that Judge Chana Lomp has taken too long to decide on Leifer’s mental state, but maintained that in general, the system works well.