Lawyers for the former Australian school principal Malka Leifer, who is wanted on more than 74 charges of sexually abusing students, have launched an appeal in the Jerusalem high court to a decision that she is mentally fit to stand trial and can be extradited to Australia.
In May, Judge Chana Miriam Lomp said she had accepted the opinion of an expert psychiatric panel that Leifer was fit to face an extradition trial, after prosecutors successfully argued she was feigning mental illness to avoid trial. However, on Wednesday Israel’s Channel 11 (Kan) news channel reported an appeal to the decision had been lodged with the high court.
Manny Waks, the founder of Kol v’Oz, an Israel-based organisation against child sexual abuse in the global Jewish community, said the appeal was “expected”.
“Of course, every defendant is entitled to due process, so we will anxiously await the outcome of this process,” he said. “However, based on the evidence, and as someone who has followed this case very closely, I expect this appeal to be promptly overturned, and for Leifer to be extradited to Australia in the near future.”
Leifer left Australia for Israel in 2008 after the allegations, which include sexual assault and rape, emerged. Her alleged victims have been fighting to see her face charges ever since. Waks told Guardian Australia the decision from an expert psychiatric panel had been “unequivocal and unanimous”. “They were certain she is faking her illness, so it doesn’t leave the defence much room to argue I would have thought,” he said.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Leifer’s lawyers are appealing on the grounds that she has been receiving antipsychotic drug treatment that could adversely affect her health and ability to face trial. They are expected to present new evidence of her mental illness.
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