‘Still no closer to justice’

‘Still no closer to justice’

Despite apparent progress in the case, with Israeli authorities urging extradition proceedings be expedited, Malka Leifer's alleged victims say they still feel no closer to justice

From left: Elly Sapper, Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer at the Jerusalem District
Court last year. Photo: EPA/Abir Sultan
From left: Elly Sapper, Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer at the Jerusalem District Court last year. Photo: EPA/Abir Sultan

IT has been 1983 days since Malka Leifer was first arrested in Israel, and there is still no court date for extradition proceedings against her.

During another frustrating week for her alleged victims, a psychiatric panel determined she was mentally fit to face proceedings and the Ministry of Justice requested a date for an extradition hearing, but on Tuesday Judge Chana Lomp of the Jerusalem District Court declined, instead directing that Leifer’s lawyers be able to cross-examine the psychiatrists.

Responding to the news, alleged victim Dassi Erlich said, “We are utterly exhausted and dismayed that after an hour-and-a-half, we still feel no closer to justice. It is obvious that Leifer is playing the system, how much longer will we allow justice to be perverted?” 

Cross-examination of the psychiatrists is expected to take place in late February or March, meaning any possible decision by the judge is another two months away.

“We would have hoped that after another panel confirms she’s faking her illness, things would move quicker,” lamented Erlich. “Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case. These delays are unacceptable.”

Victoria Police requested that Leifer be extradited in 2013 to face 74 charges in relation to the alleged sexual assault while she was principal of Melbourne’s Adass Israel school, but her lawyers have consistently claimed she is mentally unfit to face extradition proceedings. 

Malka Leifer is brought to a courtroom in Jerusalem in February, 2018. Photo: AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean

This week, following the psychiatrists’ declaration, Israeli authorities urged the Jerusalem District Court for “extradition proceedings against Malka Leifer [to] be expedited”.

“The psychiatric panel’s findings lead to the inevitable conclusion that over the past five years, the court and the mental health system have fallen victim to a fraud perpetrated by Leifer and her supporters,” Yuval Kaplinsky from the Ministry of Justice wrote to the court.

“The prosecution therefore requests that the court adopt the psychiatric panel’s findings and schedule a hearing, as well as set a date for a final decision regarding the extradition petition, as soon as possible.”

Following Tuesday’s hearing Leifer’s lawyer Yehuda Fried condemned what he described as Australian interference in the case and praised the judge’s decision not to bow to pressure by setting a date for extradition proceedings.

“It’s not over until it’s over,” he told reporters. 

While he welcomed the panel’s findings, Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler expressed frustration at the latest setback. “Another month-long delay until the panel is cross-examined is not good enough,” he said. “While due process must be followed, we hoped the court would be expeditious given the definitive nature of the panel’s findings.”

The Australia Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) said it was “extremely disappointed that it now appears cross-examination of the panel by [Leifer’s] lawyers may take two or more months and will further delay a final extradition hearing”.

“We continue to offer our support and sympathy for the victims of her alleged crimes and also call for Ms Leifer’s return to Australia to face justice as soon as possible,” AIJAC executive director Colin Rubenstein said.


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