State prosecutors demand court set date for Leifer extradition hearing

Request comes following expert psychiatric assessment that the alleged pedophile is mentally fit for trial and was feigning mental illness.

Malka Leifer
The senior prosecutor from the State Attorney’s Office handling the extradition request against alleged pedophile Malka Leifer has requested that the judge hearing the case schedule an immediate date for Australia’s request to be heard.
Yuval Kaplinsky, director of the State Attorney’s Office International Department, asked Judge Chana Miriam Lomp of the Jerusalem District Court not to allow cross-examination of the experts on the psychiatric panel, which has declared Leifer fit to stand trial.
Last week, the panel of psychiatric experts that assessed Leifer’s mental status determined that she was mentally fit for extradition and that she had been feigning mental illness to avoid extradition to Australia, where she faces 75 counts of sexual assault and rape against minors.
Although Leifer was arrested in 2014, she has claimed to be mentally unfit for trial ever since then. Extradition proceedings have either been frozen or delayed by continuing legal concerns.
On Monday, Kaplinsky submitted a request asking Lomp to immediately adopt the psychiatric assessment and to schedule hearings and a date for a final decision on the extradition request.
“In light of the opinion submitted by the panel of [psychiatric] experts, it is clear [that] the honorable court, the extradition process and the mental health services have been a victim for five years of fraud and deception by the defendant and her associates,” Kaplinsky wrote.
The decision in 2016 to freeze the extradition process because of Leifer’s supposed mental incapacity, as well as the subsequent delays after evidence that she was feigning mental illness came to light, had “significantly impaired Israel’s ability so far to meet its international commitment to Australia,” he said.
Now is the right time to remove other legal obstacles and move forward quickly with the extradition process and “avoid in every way a situation in which the defendant continues to delay the process and fraudulently disrupt it,” Kaplinsky said.
“There is no reason or need to cross-examine the panel members,” he wrote, adding that “the transcripts of the defendant’s examination by the expert panel are sufficient to clarify that this is a defendant who is familiar with the reality of her surroundings and is therefore eligible to stand trial.”
The severe delays in the extradition proceedings were a violation of Israel’s extradition treaty with Australia and had caused substantial damage to Israel’s diplomatic relations with the country, Kaplinsky said.
Although the assessment by the psychiatric panel was unambiguous and unanimous in its findings – that Leifer is not mentally ill and has been lying about her mental incapacity – Lomp likely will allow the experts to be cross-examined in court by Leifer’s defense lawyers.
If allowed, this could take several hearings and several months to complete.
The State Attorney’s Office appears anxious to avoid further delays in a case that is now in its sixth year and has caused considerable damage to the image of Israel’s criminal justice system.
Leifer’s defense lawyers claimed in response that her human rights are being damaged for diplomatic considerations.
“In our opinion, there could be no more serious damage to Israel’s image than the foolish attempt to trample on the legal process by those seeking to hasten it for reasons not germane to the case,” they wrote.
They said would seek to cross-examine the experts of the psychiatric panel, adding that they were “certain that the court will give our client her day [in court] in a fair and appropriate process.”
There have been 62 hearings so far on Leifer’s case.