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Malka Leifer is brought to court last week.(Photo by: REUTERS)
Court orders state psychiatrist to be bypassed on Leifer review panel
By JEREMY SHARON
10/07/2019
The decision is a significant win for the State Attorney’s Office prosecuting the case, due to the significant concerns about Charnes’s legitimacy in the Leifer case.
A controversial psychiatrist who presided over the psychiatric evaluation of alleged pedophile Malka Leifer will not be involved in a review panel set to rule on her fitness to stand extradition trial to Australia.

Judge Miriam Lomp of the Jerusalem District Court ruled on Sunday after a lengthy hearing that the head psychiatrist of the Tel Aviv district will appoint a panel of experts to review Leifer’s status, and not the chief Jerusalem district psychiatrist Jacob Charnes.

The decision is a significant win for the State Attorney’s Office prosecuting the case, due to the significant concerns about Charnes’s legitimacy in the Leifer case.

After Leifer was arrested in 2014, she claimed mental illness to avoid extradition to Australia, where she is wanted on 74 counts of sexual abuse against minors.

Charnes, as the relevant chief psychiatrist for the district, submitted psychiatric opinions declaring her to be mentally unfit for extradition trial.

In 2018, Leifer was rearrested on suspicion of feigning mental illness to avoid extradition, and Charnes then signed off on the written opinion of two other psychiatrists of the Jerusalem district declaring that they believed her to be feigning mental illness.

Charnes subsequently reversed himself in court, however, stating that he did not believe the new opinion he signed off on to be correct, and that he believed Leifer was indeed mentally unwell.

Complicating matters further, Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman is alleged to have met with Charnes during the course of proceedings against Leifer, and unduly pressured him into submitting a false opinion declaring Leifer to be mentally unfit for extradition.

The police recommended to the attorney-general in August that Litzman be indicted on charges of witness tampering, fraud and breach of trust in connection with the Leifer case.

Litzman denies the charges.

The State Attorney’s Office specifically requested in court on Sunday that Charnes have no role in appointing the new psychiatric panel reviewing Leifer’s ability to stand extradition trial, a panel ordered by the judge last month.

Neither the state attorney nor Lomp referenced the police recommendations against Litzman since they are not admissible until such time as the deputy minister is indicted.

Lomp stated that since the Leifer case was regarding possible extradition, there was no particular reason to favor the Jerusalem district over another. She added that because Charnes has been a witness in court during the proceedings, she would designate the chief psychiatrist of the Tel Aviv district to appoint the panel of experts.

The panel is required to submit its opinion by December 10.
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