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4 October 2019
Jewish community leaders in Australia have expressed outrage at the latest setbacks in the bid to extradite Malka Leifer from Israel to Australia to face 74 charges involving allegations that she sexually abused at least eight pupils under care while she was principal of the Adass Israel school in Melbourne.
On 23 September 2019, Judge Chana Lomp of the Jerusalem District Court ordered that Leifer submit to yet another round of psychiatric tests to ascertain her mental capacity to stand trial. There have already been more than 30 such tests. Those seeking Leifer’s extradition have produced evidence to suggest that she has been feigning mental incapacity to avoid extradition.
The case has come before the court more than 50 times. Israel’s Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has been accused by Israeli police of seeking to influence at least one psychiatrist in Leifer’s favour. Litzman and Leifer are both members of the Gur chasidic sect.
On 2 October 2019, Israeli Judge Ram Winograd ordered that Leifer be released from prison, where she was being held pending the outcome of the case, and allowed to remain in home detention with her sister.
Anton Block, President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the peak national body representing the Australian Jewish community, described the delays in the case and the allegations of political interference as “a standing indictment of Israel’s justice system”.
“These developments are adding to the trauma and pain already endured by former pupils of Leifer whom she allegedly subjected to sexual abuse”, Mr Block said. “They have been incredibly brave and dignified in campaigning for Leifer’s extradition. They are entitled to justice, and they are entitled to it now”.
“We commended Federal Attorney General Christian Porter for undertaking to raise the matter personally with his Israeli counterpart when he visits Israel later this year”, Mr Block added. “We would also like Prime Minister Scott Morrison to raise the issue, as his predecessor did.”
Mr Block noted that the ongoing denial of justice to Leifer’s accusers is also causing pain to Israel’s many friends and supporters in Australia. “When present and former political leaders in Australia who have been long-standing supporters of Israel take the Israeli justice system to task over its handling of this case, then it’s time for the acting government in Israel to take notice and act. The approach of Yom Kippur would seem like an especially appropriate time for a turn away from injustice towards justice”, he concluded.