Accused Pedophile Malka Leifer Appeals Ruling That She Is Fit to Stand Trial

Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 after being indicted in Australia on 74 counts of rape and sexual assault ■ Leifer's attorneys say court's ruling isn't evidence-based

Aaron Rabinowitz
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Accused pedophile Malka Leifer at Jerusalem's District Court in 2018.
Accused pedophile Malka Leifer at Jerusalem's District Court in 2018.Credit: Mahmoud Illean / AP
Aaron Rabinowitz

Accused pedophile Malka Leifer appealed Wednesday an Israeli court ruling that she is mentally fit to stand trial for sexually abusing three sisters who were her students while she served as the headmistress of a Jewish school in Australia.

Leifer’s attorneys Tal Gabai and Yehuda Fried filed the petition with Israel’s High Court of Justice. They also asked the court to delay implementation of the Jerusalem District Court ruling to start extradition proceedings.

After its ruling in May, the Jerusalem District Court slated Leifer's next court session for July 20.

Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 after being indicted in Australia on 74 counts of rape and sexual assault. She was located by the Israel Police in 2014 and has since claimed that she is mentally unfit to stand trial, and in doing so, halting her extradition process.

In their appeal, Leifer's attorneys presented a long list of arguments against the medical opinions submitted by a panel of experts that had been set up by the district court, which found Leifer fit to stand trial, contradicting a previous opinion from 2016.

The attorneys argued that the opinion “has no basis in evidence, which are at the heart of the request to renew the extradition process.” They said the opinion discredits all past opinions, including those that determined that Leifer is faking her mental illness.

In addition, Gabai and Fried said that Israel Prison Service is sticking to its experts’ medical opinion saying Leifer is indeed mentally ill, adding that she is still on a high dosage of psychiatric medication.

Last year, the police recommended indicting Israel's former health minister Yaakov Litzman, who is from the same Ger hasidic sect as Leifer, for allegedly using his clout to influence the psychiatric opinion in her case and prevent her extradition.

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