Malka Leifer, a former Australian school principal who is wanted in Australia on suspicion of sexually abusing students, walks in the corridor of the Jerusalem District Court accompanied by Israeli Prison Service guards, in Jerusalem February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
In a Thursday meeting with Dassi Ehrlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper, three sisters who have accused Malka Leifer of sexual abuse while they were her students at Melbourne’s Adass Israel School, Rabbi David Stav, chairman and founder of Tzohar, fully supported the sisters’ campaign to have Leifer extradited to Australia to stand trial for her alleged crimes.
Leifer is currently in Israel’s sole women’s prison, Neve Tirza, but is fighting extradition claiming she is mentally unable to stand trial.
A significant number of religious leaders in the haredi community in Australia and Israel have waged a campaign to shame or thwart the sisters’ efforts, saying that such issues should not be aired in public or adjudicated in secular courts.
Rabbi Stav completely rejected those claims and supported the sisters.
In August, ABC News Australia reported that there was a psychiatrist report deeming Leifer psychologically fit to face an extradition hearing in Australia.
On Tuesday, Kol v’Oz CEO Manny Waks said that the Jerusalem District Court held a closed-door hearing in which a psychiatrist who had deemed Leifer fit for extradition was cross-examined by Leifer’s lawyer.
There was no final ruling and it appears that the proceedings will reconvene in January.
Leifer, an Israeli citizen, is accused of 74 charges of sexual abuse against at least eight pupils, who were minors at the time, at the Orthodox day school in Melbourne where she served as a teacher and principal from 2003 to 2008.
Leifer was arrested in her West Bank residence in February, after an undercover investigation indicated that she had been feigning mental illness to avoid extradition to Australia.
Waks called on Leifer to be extradited and backed her “courageous victims” for staying the course.
In 2015, the Supreme Court of Victoria awarded over AU$1 million against the school and also $150,000 exemplary damages personally against Leifer. Police confirm there is an ongoing investigation into the actions of some members of the Adass Israel community in helping her flee Australia.
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