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Australia-Israël: Extradition of an ultra orthodox school head accused of paedophilia

Monday 28 September 2020, by siawi3

Source: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/we-are-seeing-justice-accused-paedophile-malka-leifer-should-be-extradited-to-australia-court-rules

Australia
’We are seeing justice’: Accused paedophile Malka Leifer should be extradited to Australia, court rules

Photo: Malka Leifer in a Jerusalem court - Source: AP

Malka Leifer should be extradited to Australia to face 74 child sex abuse charges, a Jerusalem court has ruled. The former Melbourne school principal’s alleged victims say the decision is a “victory” they’ve been awaiting for nine years.

22 .09.20

An Israeli court has ruled that a former principal of an Australian school accused of sexually assaulting students could be extradited to Australia for trial, but implementation could be held up by an appeal.

Malka Leifer has fought her return to Australia since 2014, including with a submission of mental illness.

Ms Leifer, who was the principal of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school in Melbourne, has denied the allegations against her.

Jerusalem District Court, having ruled in May that Ms Leifer was fit to face trial on the basis of a series of psychiatric examinations, decided at Monday’s session that she could be extradited.

Video here 01:34

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An Israeli psychiatric panel has determined that Leifer facing dozens of sex-abuse charges in Australia is fit to stand trial for extradition
Malka Leifer loses appeal against extradition ruling

It gave her 30 days to lodge an appeal with Israel’s Supreme Court, and Ms Leifer’s lawyers said a challenge against extradition would be mounted there.

“Those who think that this process is now a closed chapter - I’m afraid will be disappointed,” Nick Kaufman, one of Ms Leifer’s attorneys, told reporters. “There is a long way to go until Mrs Leifer will be surrendered to Australia, if at all.”

Ms Leifer is wanted by Australian police on 74 sexual assault charges, including rape, involving girls at her former school. She left Australia in 2008 after accusations against her surfaced.

Australia has pressed Israel to expedite Ms Leifer’s case and her alleged victims have criticised the long Israeli judicial proceedings.

Elly Sapper, one of Ms Leifer’s alleged victims along with her sisters Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer, told SBS News they were relieved following the decision on Monday.

Photo: Elly Sapper, Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer in May. AAP

“For so long we doubted whether we would see this day, but today we are seeing justice happen,” she said. The sisters said they were hoping Ms Leifer would be in Australia by early 2021.

“We actually gave our police statements in 2011, so it’s been nine years we have been waiting for this day,” Ms Erlich added. “It’s a victory for everyone today.”

Manny Waks, the chief executive of Kol V’oz, an organisation fighting sexual abuse in the Jewish community, said it had taken more than 70 court hearings to get to this point.

“I have personally attended most of these hearings and experienced first hand ... the avoidable toll this has taken on Leifer’s alleged victims,” Mr Waks said.

“It is important that we do not lose sight of that and get to the bottom of how this happened, including the role which the ultra-Orthodox community and their politicians may have had to play in this shameful situation so that it is never repeated.”

People seeking support with mental health can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. More information is available at Beyond Blue.org.au. Embrace Multicultural Mental Health supports people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

If you or someone you know is impacted by family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. People aged between five and 25 seeking support with mental health can contact Kids Helpline at kidshelpline.com.au or on 1800 55 1800.

Source Reuters - AAP - SBS