The Jerusalem District Court has accepted a unanimous decision by a psychiatric panel that former Melbourne school principal and alleged child sex abuser Malka Leifer is fit to face an extradition trial.
Tuesday’s ruling has been welcomed by Australian Attorney-General Christian Porter and sisters Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper who first filed police complaints against Leifer in 2011.
The sisters’ statements totalled 74 charges of rape and child abuse stemming from her time as principal of Melbourne’s Ultra-Orthodox Adass Israel School.
Leifer’s defence has constantly engaged in a campaign to prevent Leifer from facing an extradition trial.
Ms Erlich, who wrote to her supporters on Facebook as soon as Tuesday’s decision was announced, was overwhelmed by the ruling.
“Too many emotions to process!!! This is huge!,” she exclaimed.
“This abusive woman has been exploiting the Israeli courts for 6 years! Intentionally creating obstacles with endless vexatious arguments that have only lengthened our ongoing trauma!”
Leifer’s defence is expected to appeal the court’s decision, meaning the case would then move to the Jerusalem High Court.
If the High Court accepts the District Court’s ruling that Leifer is fit to face trial the extradition hearing will finally take place.
Mr Porter said the Australian government welcomed the ruling and hoped it gave the alleged victims confidence proceedings would move to Australia.
“Whilst today’s decision can be appealed, it is a positive sign and means that formal extradition proceedings can now lawfully commence, subject to any orders relevant to any possible appeal,” he said in a statement.
Mr Porter said the government remained strongly committed to ensuring justice was served in the case by Leifer being extradited to stand trial in Australia.
“I travelled to Israel last year to make that case to Israel’s attorney-general.”
Long time victim supporter, Manny Waks, was present in the courtroom even with coronavirus prevailing in Israel. His face mask bore the tag #bringleiferback.
Talking at a press conference following the lightning-speed hearing, Waks expressed how delighted he was but he demanded the judicial process now move forward quickly.
“We expect the extradition hearing itself happens as soon as possible, no more negligence, whether it’s by the courts or politicians,” Mr Waks said.
He further added that the sisters and he wished to follow up on the actions made by the Adass Israel School.
“Malka Leifer is here [in Israel] why? Because the Addas school sent her on a plane to Israel, they need to be held to account.”
After allegations of sexual abuse arose in 2008 against Leifer, the school where she worked bought her tickets and flew her to Israel where she has remained ever since.