Jerusalem court to rule on Malka Leifer in September

Jerusalem District Court hears new arguments from defense lawyers for Malka Leifer as Australia seeks her extradition.

AFP ,

Malka Leifer led by prison service officers in Jerusalem court
Malka Leifer led by prison service officers in Jerusalem court
Flash 90

An Israeli court said Monday it would rule in September if an Orthodox Jewish teacher accused of sexually abusing children in Australia will be extradited, a courts spokeswoman told AFP.

The Jerusalem District Court heard new arguments by defense lawyers Monday against the extradition of Malka Leifer, the latest chapter in years of legal battles.

The court had ruled in May that she was mentally competent to stand trial, rejecting defense arguments to the contrary.

Leifer was not in court on Monday but took part by videoconference, the Israel Courts Administration spokeswoman said.

She is accused of child sex abuse while she was a teacher and principal at a haredi Jewish school in Melbourne, where she had emigrated from hernative Israel.

According to Australian media, she is facing 74 counts of child sex abuse, but her lawyers say there were only "three actual complaints."

After allegations against her surfaced in Australia in 2008, Leifer and her family left for Israel and have been living in the town of Emmanuel.

A previous extradition attempt between 2014 and 2016 failed after Leifer was hospitalized in mental institutions and expert opinions found she was not fit to stand trial.

But undercover private investigators later filmed Leifer shopping and depositing a check at a bank.

This prompted Israeli authorities to launch a probe into whether she was faking mental illness to avoid extradition, leading to her arrest in February 2018.

In her 40-page May ruling, judge Chana Lomp wrote that while Leifer had "mental problems," as the panel of experts testified, "they were not psychotic problems of mental illness as in its legal definition."

"My impression is that the defendant is exacerbating her mental problems and pretending to be mentally ill," Lomp wrote.



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