Fugitive teacher’s defence fights to delay extradition

Malka Leifer's defence team were told to use WhatsApp rather than use court time in applying for documents about meetings between the fugitive teacher's alleged victims and Israeli politicians.

Her legal team has again tried to delay an extradition hearing about returning her to Australia to face 74 child sex abuse charges, which is due to start on Monday night.

Leifer was in court via video link on Sunday night (Australian time) for the first time in two years, wearing a light blue top, with dark blue sleeves and a white tichel head covering.

She did not speak during the hearing and the court denied an application to publish her photograph.

Judge Daphne Barak-Erez asked Leifer's lawyers why they did not try to call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ask for notes of alleged meetings he had with Australian officials.

The defence lawyers also demanded details of a meeting between one of the three Melbourne sisters who accused her of sexual abuse and former Israeli justice minister Ayelet Shaked.

 

Malka Leifer, the former Melbourne principal wanted for extradition to Australia to face 74 charges relating to sexual assault of female pupils at a Jewish day school. Picture: Supplied
Malka Leifer, the former Melbourne principal wanted for extradition to Australia to face 74 charges relating to sexual assault of female pupils at a Jewish day school. Picture: Supplied

"Why don't you talk to the former Minister and ask her? You can WhatsApp. It's faster than applying to the Supreme Court," the judge said, according to a translation of a hearing on Sunday night.

Leifer's new lawyer Nick Kaufman also wanted to know about a meeting between Mr Netanhayu and Australian officials in October 2019 that was reported in The Times of Israel.

The report claimed Mr Netanyahu would immediately sign off on Leifer's extradition if ordered to do so by the Jerusalem District Court that has been hearing the case.

Judge Barak-Erez questioned the lawyer about whether it was appropriate to take up court time with the application.

"Why not call Prime Minister Netanyahu to clarify? Why approach a third party who is hostile to your position?" she said.

Mr Kaufman replied he thought it "would be faster" to go through the court after calling Mr Netanyahu's office and not receiving a response.

Melbourne sisters Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper accused Leifer of abuse while she was principal of Melbourne's ultra-orthodox Adass Israel School in Elsternwick.

Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 shortly after the sisters had alerted the school of their complaint.

She has evaded justice since then, claiming that she was unfit to stand trial in an extradition hearing because of mental illness.

However, a court medical report accused her of being a fraud and declared that she was fit to face justice.

 

Sisters Elly Sapir, Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer accused Leifer of abuse while she was principal of Melbourne’s ultra-orthodox Adass Israel School in Elsternwick. Picture: AAP
Sisters Elly Sapir, Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer accused Leifer of abuse while she was principal of Melbourne’s ultra-orthodox Adass Israel School in Elsternwick. Picture: AAP

 

Manny Waks, of Jewish child abuse survivors group Kol v'Oz, said outside court that Sunday night's hearing was another example of the defence strategy of "trying to delay this case as long as possible."

"There's an attempt to undermine and politicise this process and try to make it seem that is not fair for Leifer and that everything is stacked against her," he said outside court.

"We are going to see justice prevail, Malka Leifer is going to end up on a plane back to Australia in due course."

Judge Barak-Erez did not make an immediate decision on whether to grant access to the documents. The extradition case was due to start on Monday night Australian time in the Jerusalem District Court.

stephen.drill@news.co.uk

Originally published as Fugitive teacher's defence fights to delay extradition


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