Australian Delegation in Israel Demands Extradition of Accused Pedophile Malka Leifer

Led by former Australian prime minister, the delegation met with Benjamin Netanyahu and asked for return of Malka Leifer, who fled to Israel in 2008

FILE:  Malka Leifer is brought to a courtroom in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018.
Mahmoud Illean / AP

An Australian delegation met Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and asked him to extradite accused pedophile Malka Leifer, who faces 74 charges of indecent assault and rape against her students in Australia.

The delegation, led by former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, included former ministers and senior officials. Last week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for the quick extradition of Leifer to his country. 

Leifer, an Israeli citizen who headed an all-girls ultra-Orthodox school in Melbourne, is accused of the rape and sexual assault of Erlich, Meyer and Elly Sapper.  Hours after the charges were published in 2008 she fled to Israel, and in 2014 Australia asked for her extradition. 

Since 2014, the battle over extraditing Leifer has taken place on all fronts – in the courts, in the media and in the health care community. The question, being battled over by attorneys, media advisers and ultra-Orthodox activists is whether Leifer is psychologically capable of being extradited.

Her attorneys claim that she is mentally unfit to stand trial, but psychiatrists ruled last year that she is not. A panel of experts was appointed by the Jerusalem court in early October to determine whether she is mentally ill or feigning illness.

Sources say members of Leifer’s family have asked senior psychiatrists to provide an opinion in return for tens of thousands of shekels, a much higher fee than usual. Israeli Helalth Minister Yaakov Litzman was questioned on suspicion of abetting efforts to prevent Leifer’s extradition. The police statement said Litzman is suspected of pressuring Jerusalem district psychiatrists to change their opinion and determine that Leifer is not capable of standing trial.

Earlier this month the Jerusalem District Court ruled that Leifer be released to house arrest, because it could not be proven that she is fit to stand trial, but the High Court of Justice overruled that decision and determined that she needs to stay behind bars.