Alleged sex offender Malka Leifer will be released to house arrest on Friday, the Jerusalem District Court ruled on Wednesday.Following a decision last month by Judge Chana Miriam Lomp – who is presiding over the case – to appoint a new panel of psychiatric experts to evaluate Leifer’s mental fitness to stand extradition trial, Leifer’s lawyers appealed for her to be released from prison to house arrest.
Judge Ram Winograd, presiding over the house-arrest petition, acquiesced to that request on Wednesday, and Leifer will be released to her house in Bnei Brak with her sister. The prosecution has until Friday to appeal the decision.
Leifer is standing trial for extradition on 74 counts of sexual abuse in Australia against sisters Dassi Erlich, Ellie Sapper and Nicole Meyer while she was principal of an ultra-Orthodox school. She has claimed for many years to be mentally unfit for extradition.Leifer fled Australia to Israel in 2008, but legal proceedings against her only began in 2014.A hearing on October 6 at the Jerusalem District Court will determine which psychiatrists will be on the three-member panel to decide whether she is mentally fit for extradition. The panel will be expected to issue its opinion by December 10.“We are bitterly disappointed that Malka Leifer has been granted bail and is being released to house arrest,” said Jewish Community Watch, whose private investigation restarted legal proceedings against Leifer in 2018. “It’s impossible to understand how Leifer, who has already proved herself to be a flight risk, contemptuous of the justice system and a risk to children, would be allowed to leave prison.”Leifer’s defense team has made it clear that their tactic is to drag out the proceedings for as long as possible, and the court appears to be allowing them to do so.“I am deeply shocked and astounded that someone who is well enough to [be released to] house arrest isn’t well enough to go on a plane,” said one of Leifer’s alleged victims, Nicole Meyer. “I am hurt by the State of Israel.”Dassi Erlich, another alleged victim, responded: “I can’t believe I am writing these words. LEIFER HAS BEEN GRANTED BAIL. Given that we are all aware that Leifer is a flight risk as well as of the potential of her re-offending, this blatant disregard for the well-being of the Israeli community is outstanding.“What message does this send to other potential victims?” she asked. “The court system is overly bureaucratic and vulnerable to exploitation from well-funded parties. The news is intolerable and has left us reeling. We need time to process this massive betrayal of justice, therefore we will not be making any further media statements at this time.”