Yehuda Fried (C), lawyer of Malka Leifer, speaks to a state prosecutor (L) after a court session at the Jerusalem District Court June 7, 2016. .
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS)
The Jerusalem District Court postponed a decision about extraditing Australian suspected child sex-offender, Malka Leifer, until the end of next month.
Police arrested Leifer earlier this month after an undercover investigation indicated that she had been feigning mental illness to avoid extradition.
The judge ruled on Tuesday that Leifer will remain in custody in a psychiatric hospital until the district psychiatrist can provide an assessment on her state, accepting the defense’s complaint that the new evaluation was not signed by the district psychiatrist, but by two other doctors.
The judge also ordered the prosecution to hand all its evidence to the defense.
A new hearing is scheduled to take place next month.
AFP reported that Leifer’s attorney, Yehuda Fried, told journalists after the hearing that he was confident the debate over whether Leifer could be extradited would take “years.”Dassi Erlich
, a sexual abuse survivor and activist, released a statement on behalf of Leifer’s alleged victims, which includes her. She leads a campaign calling for Leifer’s extradition under the banner #getleiferback.
“Dumfounded [sic] by the news, our hearts are heavy with despair,” read the statement. “We are silenced once again in the face of yet another stalling tactic to delay justice.”
Manny Waks, an activist working to prevent childhood sexual abuse in Jewish communities worldwide, expressed hope that the next hearing would lead to Leifer’s extradition.
“It’s disappointing that there is another delay in justice for Leifer’s alleged victims,” he said. “Our thoughts are with them. Hopefully, the next hearing will be the final one in Israel, and Leifer will be extradited to Australia to finally face justice. This seems to be supported by the district psychiatrist, who has indicated that Leifer is indeed fit to stand trial. This is a very positive and encouraging development. In the meantime, we’re pleased the judge has ruled that Leifer will remain in Israeli custody – this will ensure that she can’t evade justice and not pose a potential risk to children in Israel.”
Leifer is accused of 74 charges of sexual abuse against former pupils, who were minors at the time, at the Adass Israel School in Melbourne, Australia where she served as a teacher and principal from 2003 to 2008.
She fled to Israel in 2008 to avoid criminal proceedings but extradition proceedings only began in 2014.
Leifer has managed to avoid extradition, however, by claiming mental illness – claims, that until now, have been upheld by a medical review panel dealing with her case.Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.