MALKA Leifer has spent her first week behind bars in Australia after touching down at Melbourne Airport last Wednesday night and appearing via video link at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court the following morning.
Appearing on camera from North Melbourne police station for a 25-minute filing hearing, Leifer, 54, wearing a white head covering and a patterned jacket, spent most of the time sitting motionless, eyes averted, cradling her head in her arms, and failed to reply to Magistrate Johanna Metcalf when twice asked whether she could hear and see the court.
Among those following her first Australian court appearance were alleged victims, sisters Elly Sapper, Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer.
The magistrate asked Tony Hargreaves, representing Leifer, to confirm the charges against her, and he confirmed the former Adass Israel School principal faced 74 charges. These consist of 11 counts of rape, 47 of indecent assault, three of sexual penetration of a child and 13 of committing an indecent act with a child.
Hargreaves notified the court that Leifer had made no application for bail. He also said she required certain medications for her “significant mental health issues”. Noting Victoria Police had provided Leifer with her medications on her flight, Metcalf requested that a list of her medications be transferred to prison authorities.
Hargreaves also said, “The prison authorities are or should be aware that Ms Leifer has very strict religious beliefs and special arrangements will need to be made for her to comply,” and he understood Victoria Police has been in contact with the relevant authorities about that. He further asked that Leifer, who at the time was still in police custody, be transferred to a prison facility as quickly as possible. “She is now in the custody of Victoria Police and there simply aren’t facilities available.”
Appearing for the Office of Public Prosecutions, Phillip Raimondo told the magistrate he concurs with the arrangements.
Leifer was scheduled to be transferred to a segregation unit within Melbourne’s main women’s prison, the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre in Deer Park, where she will be isolated on remand to continue her quarantine and for her safety.
She has been remanded for a committal mention by video link before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on April 9, her next scheduled court appearance.
Welcoming Leifer’s return to Australia, Attorney-General Christian Porter said it “marks the end of a very long and complicated extradition” and “will bring relief to alleged victims who have waited many years for this moment”.
Stating those who campaigned for Leifer’s return had “shown enormous patience and resolve”, Foreign Minister Marise Payne added, “My thoughts are with them as we reach a critical step in this legal process.”