Malka Leifer back in court
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Committal proceedings

Malka Leifer back in court

At an April 9 committal mention, the Melbourne Magistrates' Court heard 10 witnesses would be called to test evidence against Leifer.

Malka Leifer, as sketched in court on Friday. Image: Courtesy Nine
Malka Leifer, as sketched in court on Friday. Image: Courtesy Nine

THE “home life” of three of Malka Leifer’s alleged victims might be probed as her lawyers seek to test evidence against her, it was revealed when the former Adass Israel School principal made her second appearance in an Australian court to face charges of child sexual abuse.

Leifer, 54, who was extradited to Australia from Israel in January following a battle of more than six years, faces 74 charges relating to three alleged victims – Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper – during her time as principal of the Adass Israel School between 2001 and 2008.

Leifer has maintained her innocence and has not yet entered any pleas regarding the charges and has not applied for bail.

Alleged child sexual abuser Malka Leifer this morning fronted Melbourne Magistrates' Court via video link for her second…

Posted by The Australian Jewish News on Thursday, April 8, 2021

At an April 9 committal mention, the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court heard 10 witnesses would be called to test evidence against Leifer. Tony Hargreaves, Leifer’s lawyer, told the court, “Clearly the relationship that the three complainants had with their parents, in particular their mother, it would seem is the genesis for the relationship between the accused and the complainants,” adding Leifer’s counsel might wish to ask the witnesses about “what was happening at home with the complainants”. But he stated that such questions “will be limited and it may be that counsel chooses not to pursue that avenue”.

Flanked by a guard, Leifer, wearing a blue top and a head-covering, appeared by video link in the online court session from her Victorian prison location. Asked by Magistrate Johanna Metcalf if she could see and hear the courtroom, Leifer responded, “Yes” and appeared to be listening attentively to the proceedings.

She had earlier appeared online in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on January 28, the day after she was flown back to Australia after 13 years.

Malka Leifer has spent her first week behind bars in Australia after touching down at Melbourne Airport last Wednesday…

Posted by The Australian Jewish News on Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Metcalf heard from Hargreaves and from Holly Baxter of the Office of Public Prosecutions that, assuming there was no tightening of COVID-19 restrictions, they would prefer committal proceedings to be held in person.

The magistrate said that subject to COVID guidelines, physical in-court appearances were preferable and “given the complexity of the proceedings, I think that’s probably going to be a more efficient way to run the matter”.

Leifer is scheduled to appear for another committal mention on July 30. With five-day committal proceedings set for September 13, The AJN understands that witnesses unable to participate on Yom Kippur, September 15-16, will be questioned on other dates.

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